Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Current Gaming Table

I showed you the pictures of the gaming table I helped my friend 'Mike' build. I showed you pictures of the game table I built and gave to my friend in Jersey. The natural next question is, "what am I using for a game table now? Must be something awesome, right?"

Yup, that's it...  I know, it looks like a kitchen table.

I mentioned my concerns with my first gaming table. It was an awkward height for playing board games or miniature games and it was too big to play board games at comfortably. Since I haven't played miniature games in years I wanted something that would be convenient to play board games at.

And why are the chairs red? We bought them from a garage sale and they were pretty beat. We gave them a quick sanding, painted them red and gave them a couple coats of polyurethane. But why red? I wanted our game room to have bright cheerful colors. Check out the bright green on the walls.

My new game table is made entirely from hard maple. The top is 3' x 5' x 3/4" and is a comfortable 30 inches off the ground. The legs are tapered and are probably a little chunkier than they needed to be. The skirt is attached to the legs using a mortise and tenon joint.

Test leg I just found still in my scrap bin
I cut the mortises using a jig I built from plans - maybe I'll talk about this in a different post - that uses a router which is why the corners are rounded. I rounded the corners on the skirt board tenons rather than trying to chop the mortises square.

The top is attached to the legs with 'buttons'.

This is a very simple table that was essentially my own design. When I made it it was a good stretch of my skills. I was and am pretty happy with it. It works well, is nicely sized and is very stable and solid. I've considered making a drop-leaf table that would also end up being 3' x 5' that would be the same height. That way if I wanted a larger gaming top I could just put the two together but otherwise I could drop the leaves and set the drop-leaf table to the side. But that's another day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My First Gaming Table

This is one of my first woodworking projects...  Well, okay not the first. There's the gun rack I made my grandfather in 5th grade, there's the book rack I made in 4H club when I was...  um... 12 maybe? By first I mean, of the stuff I made as an adult that wasn't just banging two boards together. When I made this table I had a very limited set of tools and much less experience than I do now.

All those caveats aside I'm still really happy with how this table came out.

The table is a sheet of 3/4" maple plywood mounted on 2x3 pine legs and frame. The table edging is 1x4 pine. The entire table is finished with a walnut stain and polyurethane.

I had a number of goals for this table:

  • Needed to be able to be moved room to room and from house to house
  • Wanted to play games standing and sitting
  • Needed to be big enough to play miniature games (4' x 4' play area)
  • Needed to be solid
I made the table movable by bolting it together with carriage bolts. The 2x3" leg assembly under the table will stand on its own. I can attest that this worked out just fine. I built it in my basement, took it apart and moved it to my game room, then five or ten years ago took it apart again and moved it to a friend's house in New Jersey.

There are several parts to the frame. There are:
  • End leg assemblies
  • Table length support rails
  • Mid-table brace
  • Two cross braces

The end leg assembly consists of the lower horizontal rail, the upper horizontal rails and the two legs. I added gussets to the legs for strength. The gussets go across the width and the length of the table. The upper rail has a half lap joint that the rails run the length of the table drop into. The entire end assembly is glued and screwed.

The mid-table brace is attached to the two long rails with hanger bolts nuts and washers. The two cross braces have a single long carriage bolt run through them and the mid-table brace secured with washers and nuts. They are attached to the leg assembly using a shorter carriage bolt and washers and nuts. The long rails are fastened to the leg assemblies with more carriage bolts and nuts through the gussets. The top just sits on top of the legs using gravity to keep it in place.

It isn't quick to move but it does come apart and go back together without wearing out screw holes. Portability accomplished!

The combination of the glued legs, the gussets and the angled cross braces make this table very solid. I never tested it to destruction; however, It's had large full-grown adults standing on it and it didn't so much as bend or wiggle. Strength accomplished!

The full 4x8 top gives plenty of room for miniature games. The extra large size gives plenty of room to put notes or stage units. Large size accomplished!

I forget exactly how tall I made the table. I do know I split the difference between a sitting table and a standing table. One of the problems with playing miniature games over a normal sitting table is that you can end up hunched over for hours. By the end of the game your back can be sore enough that you don't care if you win or lose. So table height accomplished?

Not really...

What I ended up with is a table that is uncomfortable to sit at and isn't quite tall enough to stand at comfortably. What I accomplished is a table that is equally uncomfortable to stand or sit at. I offered to adjust the height to make it better for one or both of those activities. He has so far declined all offers so it will stay as it is.

The only other big problem with the table is that the top isn't fastened to the legs. Oddly enough the weakest part of the table is when someone leans on the end of the table. If the person weighs anything at all the entire table will lever up. I've never seen the top come all the way off but I have seen games disrupted because the pieces went everywhere.

There is also a smallish problem in that the large size makes the table awkward to play four player board games. It's even a bit large for most any board game as someone (or everyone) has to reach to get to the center of the board and often stand to reach the far side.

If I were to make this table again the principal thing I would change is the height. I'd make it the correct height for sitting at and include some leg extensions that would raise the table to a better height for standing at. I'd also fasten the top to the legs, probably with some turn buttons to avoid the levering problem.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Toastmasters' Name Card Stands

While looking for old pictures of the gaming table I can across pictures of at least one other project that slipped through the cracks. This is one of them.

The company I was contracted to for the last two years was large enough to have a Toastmasters International Club that met at lunch twice a month. I have a fair bit of experience doing extemporaneous speaking but almost none writing, practicing and giving prepared talks. So I joined the club in the spring of 2015. It was a fabulous experience and I recommend it to everyone.

Our club had printed name cards on heavy card stock for everyone. It wasn't that we didn't know each other's names, we sometimes had guests and it was part of the formality of the meeting. My name card was new so it stood up fairly well; however, other people in the club had been there long enough that their cards wouldn't stay folded.

Woodworking to the rescue!

November 2015, I made these name card stands out of wood in my scrap bin. The best part was how easy they were to make.

Making them with wood from my scrap bin made them "free" but it did add a little complexity to the construction. I generally throw out anything too short to go through my planer so that wasn't an issue; however, most of the pieces were still pretty small. Small enough that I wasn't able to put the ogee on the end of a single wide board and then cut them to width. I had to put it on each piece individually. It was enough of a pain that most of the card stands got a bevel I could cut on the table saw.

To make assembly go a little bit quicker I made a jig I could use to glue them together. I think I clamped them, let them sit for 20 minutes while I did other projects in the workshop. Then it was rinse and repeat.

I built the stands upside down. I placed one of the slotted taller pieces in the bottom then the taller pieces to the sides and back would properly index the bottom. This took all the guesswork out of assembly which made it go very smoothly.

I used my small block plane to put a quick bevel on the bottom plates. Again I tried using a small bit in the router table but it was too slow and speed was one of my goals. After the glue dried on all of them I gave them all a quick couple of coats of wipe on polyurethane.

I think I made around twenty of them from padauk, cherry and white oak. It's possible I used a few different woods but I think this was pretty much it.

They were greatly appreciated and despite not actually being fine woodworking they look really nice.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gaming Table

Just over a year ago when I rebooted this blog I mentioned making legs for a friend's table. Well, it took a year but I got pictures of it this week and figured I'd share.

To give you a little background on this table, my friend - who we are calling Mike - built a gaming table top over ten years ago. It isn't as fancy as some of the multi-tier roll playing gaming tables I've seen but it has a number of really cool elements baked into it.

The table is basically a sheet of plywood with the corners rounded trimmed with a combination of red oak and walnut. The top is covered with speed fabric over some closed cell - poker - foam. He created some padded rails around the edges to help keep dice from rolling off the table and to make the table more comfortable to rest your arms on.

To make sure I'm clear. Mike built this table top in my workshop. I provided help and guidance but the labor and skill was all his. Frankly, I think he did a spectacular job and the table is beautiful. It also shows how accessible woodworking can be with just a little help. I recently upgraded the legs with what you see in the above picture.

In my recent workshop cleanup I came across the plans we made.

Let's look a little more closely at the trim around the table. As I mentioned earlier the table top is built from a relatively sturdy plywood  base. We added the hardwood trim to cover the rough plywood edges rather than as a structural element. We didn't use any fancy joinery techniques, we basically just glued and tacked it in place with brad nails.

I think if I was going to do it again I'd just use glue and some clamps to hold everything in place. The nails don't look too bad but we could have done better. That one is all on me.

We debated on how to build the corners. We discussed bending plywood but in the end Mike chose the safer route which was to stack up plywood and cut it into a curve. I don't remember exactly how we made the curve; however, I suspect we cut the pieces out, glued them together on a form then used my stationary sander to make the curves true. Mike then cut some oak veneer and used wood glue to the curved form.

The top is the best part of the table. Mike researched poker table surfaces and came up with this combination. The foam underlayment has just enough give that when you want to pick up a card or chip you can gently press on one side and the other side pops up making it easy to get hold of. Have you ever had to damage the edge of a card because it was laying flat on a solid table top? Not on this one. Yet the top is firm enough that when we are playing games with tippy plastic bits there is no issue with them falling over.

The black vinyl arm rests around the table provide a couple of uses. First and foremost they are a comfortable place to rest your arms while sitting at the table. They also provide a nice transition between the foam and the wood skirt around the table. Mike didn't have to be super precise about trimming the foam or the speed felt.

Mike built these by wrapping plywood and foam with vinyl fabric which is stapled on the bottom. The corners are a bit ugly but that's because neither Mike nor I are upholsters - though I did watch all of The Furniture Guys episodes. Corners are hard, round corners are still hard.

Why am I going to talk about the underside of the table? Mostly because it is relevant to the whole leg situation.

Why yes, the top is quite heavy but that was purposeful. There's little that is worse than having a gaming table that flexes when someone leans on it. Much like with woodworking tools, mass helps dampen vibrations and strength reduces the flexibility. Games that have lightweight pieces can be disrupted if the surface moves too much so this is all good.

Normally when building furniture you'd have a good idea of what the entire thing will look like before you get started. In this case Mike hadn't decided what kind of legs to put on his table so we put temporary legs on the table. These were simple 2"x2" poplar legs that we created pockets for in the ends.

These legs were awesome. Awesome at keeping the top a few feet off the floor. Otherwise they were terrible. The table had a horrible wobble and whenever you'd lean against the table you'd get the feeling that if you leaned too hard the table might just collapse. This is on me too...

It was pretty clear that these legs needed to be very temporary. I'm not sure when I offered to make Mike new legs for the table but it couldn't have been too long after we'd first set it up. I think I'd renew the offer every few years, re-measure the underside of the table and then not follow through. A year and a half ago I finally followed through with my offers.

After some discussion with Mike we agreed that trestle table legs would work well, especially, since there are often people sitting around the corners of the table. Having a couple of people sitting at the ends we figured out how much to inset the legs so that people wouldn't be constantly banging their knees. To fit with the trim around the table and to keep the price down we went with red oak. To make sure the legs were sturdy we went with 8/4 stock.

The challenge was in how to attach the new legs to the table. Mike also wants to be able to get the table out of his house some day if he ever decides to move. This meant the table needs to be able to be disassembled and reassembled.

One of the thoughts I'd had was putting pegs on the top leg rails that would slip into the same pockets we were using for the 2x2 legs. The problem was that the holes were not a good distance from the ends of the table (i.e. the legs would be uncomfortably close to the ends). I thought about making plywood plates that I could mount the pegs on that would allow me to shift the legs inward. The challenge with that was the lack of space between the bottom of the skirt and the plywood bottom. If I added anything too thick it would stick out and be both unattractive and uncomfortable.

As you can see from the above picture the ends of the table are built up but there is a gap in the middle. After some careful measurement and thought and staring at the bottom of the table I decided to build a sub table - a table that would fit beneath and inside the table top. What I did was cut out a piece of plywood that fit the larger gap on the bottom and then added some hardwood cleats out of some scrap I had lying around to help stiffen the plywood a little bit.

My shop isn't in Mike's basement so I made the plywood under-top and cleats using some careful measurements and a story stick. I used some scrap to make a proto-type of the top. It was only one inch wide but it allowed me to triple check that the top was going to fit. It worked like a charm and fit like a glove on the first try. All the extra care and caution was worth it.

To attach the legs to the under-top I used four hanger bolts on each end. Technically, I used three on each end because my local DIY store only had six of the appropriate size. I drilled for four so if Mike ever feels like it he can just add the remaining two bolts - one on each end.

Onto the main attraction! The legs!

To make sure Mike would be happy with the layout I started by making a single set of legs from 2" thick foam. Unfortunately I don't think I have any pictures of them. They look essentially identical to the wood ones - or is it vice versa - but were made out of pink closed cell foam insulation. But they were effectively a full-sized mock up so Mike could get a better feel for how they'd look in relation to the table.

There's really not much to these legs. There's a foot, a post and a rail across the top. To make sure the feet came out consistent I made a template for the ends. I used a Forstner bit to make the radius and cut the long straight on the band saw. I used a straight edge and a pattern bit with my router to clean up the rough cut and then some sanding to make it all look good.

The leg posts are attached to the arm and foot using pretty beefy mortise and tenon joints. I made the tenons on my table saw using a dado blade and my fence. I unfortunately learned something new about my fence. The wood was pretty heavy and in the process of keeping a firm pressure against the fence my fence slipped. This fortunately didn't ruin the leg but it did make the tenons longer than I'd planned which made the top a little shorter than Mike wanted. I made the mortise in the foot and arm using my router and a template.

mortising jig

There is one long rail that attaches the two legs together. The picture on the legs gives a hint as to how everything is all attached. There are two threaded rods that run the length. Instead of buying a six foot drill bit I bought two 4/4 red oak boards, used my tablesaw to make two long grooves and then glued them together to make one long board. I could have used hanger bolts again; however, I really wanted to be able to crank these things tight and I didn't want to have any worries of stripping a hanger bolt out of the wood. By having a steel rod running the length all of the forces are on the rod and not the wood.

Yup, that's a lot of clamps. I could use a few more I think. Note: In the upper right you can see the legs with their tenons and a piece of the pink foam board I used for the prototype. I'd kept it around because it had key measurements written on it.

You can see the ends of the threaded rod sticking out. I went ahead and glued everything up with the rods in place so I could be sure that everything was aligned properly and that I didn't have glue squeeze out that might keep me from inserting the rods later. Since I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get the rod out after the glue dried I cut the two boards to final length and then used some bolts and washers to make sure the ends were aligned. After the glue dried I used my sawzall to cut the rods to length and a new angle grinder to remove the burrs.

The next challenge to solve was getting holes spaced properly and consistently on the legs. I handled this with another jig - see I am learning, ten years ago I probably would have tried free-handing it.

In the picture of the rail glue up you can see on the right hand side how I glued up my off-cuts too. I was able to slice a little bit off the end and use it as a template for spacing the holes in the legs. To make sure they were positioned correctly I attached it to a piece of plywood the same size as the leg post. I could just clamp it in place and use my hand drill to make the holes.

The bolts are captured on each end using specialty hardware I sourced from Lee Valley. These Tension Rod Nuts have 1/4" holes that you can use to tighten them down. I got cheap at the last minute and decided to not buy the little pre-made rod they sell for $1.40. When we put it all together I tried using a screw driver which didn't have a 1/4" diameter and the holes weren't deep enough to really get a good purchase. I tried 1/4" oak dowel but it wasn't strong enough to really crank down on them.

While I love Lee Valley their shipping prices do not encourage making small purchases so instead of buying a $3 worth of steel rod and paying as much or more in shipping I went to my local DIY store and bought a length of 1/4" steel rod. I cut them to length with a hacksaw and used my grinder to remove any burrs. They worked spectacularly and really made the table solid. I also made Mike a little holder to screw to the bottom of the table so they wont get lost.

I'm really happy with how the legs came out. The mid rail is the perfect height to rest your feet on when no one is looking. The legs are in far enough from the ends that the table is comfortable to sit at anywhere. And best of all, once we used the metal rod to tighten the nuts on the ends the table is super solid. I'm not a small person and I can 'bump' the end of the table walking past and it doesn't wiggle at all. This is a great set of legs to compliment a spectacular gaming table top.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Workshop Makeover, part 12 - Lumber Storage Rack wrap up

I was pretty productive this week. A few late nights and next thing I knew the lumber storage racks were finished. I tried a number of short-cuts along the way and some of them worked and some of them didn't.

The first step was to assemble the short side frames using glue and 1-3/4" screws. 

You can see from the photos below that there are a lot of screws in each side panel. Sixteen in the foot, forty holding on the arms and another sixteen in the short top stretcher for a grand total of seventy-two screw. That's not counting the additional twenty screws per side to attach the long stretchers to each short-side frame. Since I am building six of these I'm going to end up needing close to 600 screws. I knew a single pound of screws wasn't going to cut it so I bought a five pound box.

Yes, deck screws...  Why deck screws you ask? I use deck screws quite often in assembling my workshop projects. They are strong, they are coated to resist moisture and while my basement isn't wet it isn't bone dry either. These have flutes to allow them to drive their way into soft wood without needing a hole pre-drilled and they have enough bite they can pull boards together.

The plans didn't contain much useful information in the way of how to assemble the racks so I made up a couple of jigs and spacers to help with keeping things square and spaced consistently. The principle jig was a scrap piece of MDF ripped to fit the spacing between the 2x4s. I attached a piece of 1/2" plywood to the bottom sized to assist centering and attaching the foot square to the posts.

The plywood base to my squaring jig is sized to fit evenly between the toes on the feet. To start I laid out two 2x4s using the MDF to space them appropriately. Then I set a foot on top using the jig base to space it evenly. Then using the foot and a framing square I marked the height of the foot on the 2x4s and the 2x4s on the foot.

A little bit of glue on the posts using the markings to keep from getting the glue all over everything. 

After replacing the foot I used a couple of brads to keep everything lined up while I predrilled screw holes and screwed everything together.

The plans didn't really specify the spacing between the bottom most arms and the foot so I decided to minimize the spacing and used a 1/4" piece of plywood from my scrap bin as a spacer and another piece of plywood as a straight-edge to  keep the feet in line.

Again I added glue to the back of the arm then a couple of brads to hold the arms in place then drilled pilot holes and screws to hold it all together.

I made another 1/4" plywood spacer to set the spacing between each set of arms. I followed the same basic process: spacer, add glue to the back of the arms, pilot holes then screw the arms in place using a straightedge.

I followed this process for the rest of the arms. When I got to the short stretcher on the top I just lined it up with the tops of the posts then glued and screwed it in place.

By the sixth one of these I was able to move pretty fast. My last one took thirty minutes start to finish. A couple of things I learned along the way that made things go faster:
  • I started drilling the pilot holes using my hand drill but found using at the drill press easier and quicker
  • The screws were able to pull themselves into the plywood so I didn't need to drill countersinks
  • The few brad nails I used to tack the plywood in place really helped
  • The jig and spacers were critical to fast accurate assembly

The two halves get assembled with screws only so the racks can be disassembled later. Since I was sloppy with adding the glue I had a lot of squeeze out which meant I needed to wait a day for the glue drips to dry. I also tried different ways of assembling the two halves using the long stretchers - also no tips in the instructions. The way I found that worked best was pre-drilling the pilot holes at the drill press. Then attach all four to one of the sides using a single screw. Then with that side braced against something align the other side and tack them together with screws top stretchers first.

This leaves the assembly somewhat stable but still flexible enough to get everything square. Using a framing square I made sure the assembly was square then added the rest of the screws to lock everything in place.

I did most of the assembly during the week so Saturday I lined the racks up against the long wall in the smaller shop (I've got to make another diagram and post it). I used a couple of shims to make sure they didn't rock and were somewhat level with each other. I didn't glue the shims in place because I may want to move them later and don't want to have to chisel them off. I considered adjustable feet but the best price I could find on those was $16/four and didn't feel like dropping another $50 when some wood shims would work.

My plan is to use my old lumber rack for special wood and wood for in progress projects. I moved everything else to the new racks.

Yay! Another project off my workshop bucket list.

Project Wrap-up

Compared to most projects I get from woodworking magazines these were somewhat minimalistic. They were sufficient but missing some values. For example the width of the arms wasn't given. There were enough values given that I was able to make a reasonable guess (~4" btw). There wasn't a template for the arm shape nor were there dimensions given for the cut-outs (I guessed 1" and just made a 1" radius scallop at the junction. It seems to be working fine.

With that said, I found the plans were quite sufficient and well worth spending the $3 they cost me. The finished stands are quite sturdy and I would have probably over-engineered my own design.

I don't regret using pine rather than poplar for the stands. I was able to find relatively straight and untwisted 2x4s so they were a lot cheaper than buying and milling my own poplar. I spent maybe $2.50 / post using 2x4s versus probably needing to spend close to $10 / post. I do think that if I were to make these again I'd use cheaper plywood. My local DIY store has some very nice 9 ply pine plywood. I used birch plywood because I wanted to use hardwood (hopefully stronger) but I'm thinking the pine plywood would be strong enough and I would have saved a chunk of money (enough to buy my levelers anyway).

All in all I found this to be a quick and easy project with a lot of utility. I'm quite happy with the plans and recommend them to anyone who wants a free standing lumber storage rack.

Oh, and did I mention that I used a lot of screws? Almost 4 lbs of screws!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Workshop Makeover, part 11 - Lumber Storage Rack p1

One of the things I've needed for a few years is additional storage for wood so that's been on my workshop makeover punch-list from the beginning.

My original plan was to put up walls in the smaller shop similar to how I'd put up walls in the larger shop. The walls are insulated with fiberglass batting backed by 1" closed cell foam board. I covered all that with 5/8" T1-11 plywood. I had leftover house paint so I painted it too. It took three or four coats but I figured it would be easier to keep dust free.

It has worked out well. Having plywood covering all the walls means I can screw stuff to it where ever I want for lighter loads. It is also very durable and doesn't get dings and dents the way drywall or a lighter paneling might. As an added bonus it makes my workshop one of the most comfortable rooms in the house. It stays toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer.

The one downside is that it is relatively expensive. I'm going to have to cover 45 linear feet of wall. That's 30-35 studs, 11 sheets of T1-11, 22 sheets of foam board, bottom plates, top plates, fiberglass insulation... That all adds up to hundreds of dollars, heck it's over $300 just for the T1-11. $100 in studs, etc. Then my wife got involved. I was discussing my options and thoughts with her and she asked, "Why are you putting up walls?"

I thought about it for a little while and realized I was pretty happy working in the larger shop. With all my mobile tools moved out so I could build my workbench I found I really liked working in there when it wasn't cluttered. This is kind of the direction I was heading anyway; however, just being halfway there I'm already seeing the intended effects.

I think I might want to try using just the larger shop for awhile and use the smaller shop for storage: tools, wood, etc. I want to build and start using a hand tool bench eventually. I'd like an assembly table too. When and if I make these they'll almost have to go into the smaller shop. I can re-evaluate my desire for walls at that point in time.

And how is this all relevant to the wood storage issue? I'd been planning on building a larger version of the same wood storage racks I have in the larger shop. The issue is that my current wood storage rack design is wall mounted. The decision to not put up walls means I need a new plan for a wood storage rack.

I started where I always start and looked through my personal magazine index for wood storage racks. I didn't find anything free standing so I went to my second choice which was googling for wood storage rack. I found a couple of likely examples; however, they were images from pintrest which never led me back to somewhere that had plans. I'm moving from ambivalent to hating pintrest.

So when Google failed me I went to my third route which was to go to web sites for wood working magazines and doing searches in their indexes for plans. Why is this third in my list of choices? Because by and large wood working magazines are great at woodworking but tend to be much less adept at building websites and article search engines. The long and the short of this is that this approach failed me too.

I did come across a set of plans in an old Woodworker's Journal. I did get that magazine for a couple of years but not the issue the plans were printed. They are offered for sale on Rockler's website but are $8.
Image property of Woodworker's Journal

Then finally I found the plans for the wood rack I kept seeing pictures of on pintrest. And oddly enough I ran across them almost randomly. In my searching indexes on woodworking websites I came across a really cool hammock stand on the Wood Magazine website. After looking through those I decided to see what else they had and came across the plans I really wanted. Even better they're only $3.

Image property of Wood Magazine

Whew! Are we ready to get into the build versus having to hear all the BS about walls versus no walls or the travails of trying to find plans versus designing my own storage?  In short, no.

An added complication this week is that on Wednesday we had a very large wind storm. Wind storm? Yes, a wind storm. This highest measured gust was 82 mph. This blew down trees, trees onto power lines, and just power lines. Approximately 40% of the county was without power. Me? I had power which is somewhat of a miracle. Every previous time our region had any kind of power outage, it invariably included my house and took a week to get power back.

So why was this a complication? Only that even when a disaster doesn't strike you directly everything takes a little more time and a little more effort. Also a friend of mine did lose power so he was staying over a couple of nights while the temperature in his house dipped into the 30's. Also, no Internet! No Internet means no Netflix, HBO GO...  GAH!

And now? Onto the build.

Okay, first the purchase of materials. The author of the plans used poplar for the posts; however, I decided to scrimp on the costs a little bit and use common 2x4s. To get the 2x4's I grabbed my battery operated Makita circular saw and ran to Home Depot first thing in the morning. To save a little money I bought 12ft 2x4s and cut them in half in the parking lot so they'd fit in the back of my Forrester. The stack of 12ft 2x4s was relatively heavily picked over so it took a while to dig though to find relatively straight boards.

I also needed plywood for this and my next project so I called my friend - a fellow woodworker - 'John', who also owns a truck, and made arrangements to stop by my local lumber store. Picking up lumber always takes longer than I expect but I did have time for a quick trip to the grocery store before John called and said he was ready to meet me at the lumber store. The store didn't have power but they were still open. We just had to use flashlights to find our sheet goods. four sheets of 3/4" birch, one sheet of 1/2" D grade maple, one sheet of 3/4" MDF, and one sheet of 1/2" MDF. Enough for this project and the next. Thanks 'John'!

After cooking lunch for my wife any myself I started breaking down the plywood. John and I'd unloaded the wood into my garage so to make it convenient to get the sheets into my basement I dropped them onto a couple of 2" thick foam boards and cut then into 4' x 4' sheets using my cordless circular saw. Half sheets are much easier to carry.

I used the cutting diagrams I drawn up earlier in the week to break down the half sheets into rough parts. There's a lot of parts because I want to build three racks. The plans say that two racks can support up to 10 ft boards but I'd like to be able to support longer boards. I often buy 12 or 16 ft boards.

Yay, everything can fit on two sheets of plywood

I had to stop to make dinner last night but picked it all back up this afternoon. I started with the feet. These get a second layer of plywood at the ends and get a bevel to lighten them up. Rather than measuring each one I made a template so I could just trace each foot.

I considered a few different options for cutting the bevel but settled on using my circular saw. It cuts straight and clean and I don't need fancy jigs. Also, I don't need super awesome precision.

I started by gluing the - ummm, I'm calling them toes - to the feet. I used a simple jig which amounted to a straight edge to keep the bottoms flush while I tacked them together with brad nails. The nails held everything in place so I could drill pilot holes and then add deck screws. It all went surprisingly smoothly.

The plans don't have a diagram or even measurements for the arms so I made some educated guesses and used my advanced math skills. Using a compass and ruler I laid out one arm and then after cleaning it up with my spindle sander and sanding block I used it to trace the pattern on the other arms. I got about halfway through before needing to stop to clean up so I could make dinner.

I was hoping to get everything done this weekend but I just didn't get enough workshop hours. There's 30 arms left and then assembly of all the bits but hopefully I can get it all done this week and maybe a little into next weekend.