Sunday, August 9, 2020

Covid 19 week 20, 21 - Rando projects

On the Covid front...  I had my first take-out in four months these last two weeks. Last weekend we ordered and ate some buffalo wings. They were good but not as good as I expected them to be after four months of no fried foods. While stopping by my local Woodcraft - more on this later - I also grabbed a couple of caramel frappachinos. Today our pork chops didn't thaw in time for dinner so we ordered Thai from a local restaurant. It was pretty good.


We have several fine lumber yards in the area. Some of them carry finishing supplies but when it comes to specialized woodworking tools Woodcraft is the best place for me to go. I needed some poly - General Finishes Oil and Urethane is my go-to here - and  I also picked up a Tormek T4 sharpener for sharpening my plane blades and chisels.

Is it excessive? Maybe...  I've tried learning how to sharpen my chisels and planes by hand. I've use oil stones, water stones, sand paper, etc. (no, not the scary sharp method...  yes I know about it... no, I haven't tried it). The nice thing about the Tormek is that it has jigs for properly sharpening all kinds of tools including kitchen knives.

My wife and I are quarantining all items coming into our house for three days so I just got the box out of quarantine this weekend and pulled the manuals. I'll let you know what I think of it after I get it fired up.


I finished my gaming console console but I'm still doing woodworking. Mostly I am trying to finish up small projects I started but didn't finish. As I said in my last post these projects include the hobby supplies storage cabinet I built for my wife and the gaming table accessories for my friend.

Last weekend I completed putting the finish on the drawer fronts and two more of the trays and got them in place. I'm not exactly happy with the spacing I got on the drawer fronts but it'll look fine from my house. Yes, I realize it is in my house but it's in my wife's hobby room and I almost never go in there.

Last weekend I also finished milling the parts for the gaming table accessories. I got the slot covers glued in place and found some 3/16 inch steel rod that I cut into 3/4 inch lengths to act as handles to the lock mechanism. I got all the pieces sanded and out into the garage last weekend but I didn't start putting polyurethane on them until this weekend. I've got two coats at this point so given that my technique needs many coats I figure I'll have the finishing completed sometime late this week. It is supposed to be hot over the next couple of days so depending on how hot an humid it is in the morning it may take longer. We will see.

My next "me" project is picture frames. We've been accumulating art over the last fifteen or so years and I always say that I'll build a frame rather than pay someone else to do it for us. Well that's a long standing "small" project I am going to get done. The nice thing is it won't take much wood so I won't have to risk going to a lumber store.

I've got a couple of 8x10's water color paintings that we bought in St. Maartin ten or so years ago. I think they'd look really nice in a black walnut frame. My wife has a small 5x7 ink drawing of a cat that I think would look nice in a black frame. Neither one of the frames need to be bulky so they'll be a good start.

One of the things that I'll need to be able to do is cut the pieces accurately. I do have a 45 degree table saw jig but I remembered seeing a video by Michael Alm a few weeks ago where he had a better jig (you could skip to the 3 minute mark but it'd be better to watch the full video). Since I could be more sure that a new jig would cut a better mitered corner I figured I'd build my own version of the Michael Alm jig (though, I'll bet he got his idea from somewhere else).

I finished mine today and cut my initial test frame. It looks pretty good especially considering it was cut out of scrap.

The last thing I got done today was making a setup template for my Kubb set. It's basically some paracord with loops tied in it that when laid out it forms a triangle making up half the pitch. It's explained better on the Kubb blog post. At first I thought I was going to need help and a long tape measure but then I remembered I'd already made one. I just laid out the one I already had in the yard and used it as a template for my new one.

In Summary

I had a couple of pretty relaxed weeks. I got a few hours into the workshop and made really good progress towards finishing up a couple of projects. I got some photos of my new table saw miter jig but I'll save that for its own post later this week.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Covid 19 Week 19 - Finishing projects is fun!


I play board games. This isn't a great admission. It isn't like this is Board Gaming Anonymous with a twelve step unproven treatment for wayward board gamers. I play board games and recently I've been enjoying a card game called Sentinels of the Multiverse. The game has so much depth beyond just a couple of cardboard heroes and villains. The creators have been telling stories to each other for years (maybe decades) of super heroes and villains. Basically writing comic books in their stories. It really gives you the feeling that you are playing a comic book super hero.

Anyway, a few years ago they started a podcast where they talk about different aspects of the game. Mostly they are talking about the back stories of the characters in the game, telling or making up the stories in the comic books.

The point? I'm getting there...  I'm a bit behind in pod casts but I am catching up to the present. I'm caught up in all my science pod casts other than Astronomy Cast. In my fun pod casts (pretty much just Sentinels) I just got to March. They're just now experiencing what we all experienced four months ago. If made me a bit introspective about my blog. Anyone reading this not in real-time will be basically looking back on whatever I write with the benefit of retrospection.

Of course since the internet is forever, some researcher in ten years will find this blog and make it a data point in their paper. Some historian will find it again in a hundred years and then take some quote from my blog and then generalize it to "here's how people in the USA felt about Covid in 2020." I just want to:
a) apologize to those people reading this blog in the near future who already know what awaits us
b) say hello and welcome to both the researcher and the historian (Hi!)

Covid? Not much of a change from last week. NYS is showing a very slight rise in the incident rate. Governor Cuomo is talking about shutting down bars and restaurants. Most of the rest of the nation appears to have out of control Covid infections. Most of the states that aren't out of control are on the verge of going out of control. I am very thankful that our state is taking this serious and is taking measures to keep us all safe.


Gaming Console Console

I just finished my Gaming Console Console! I'm very excited. I texted pictures of it to all my woodworking buddies and other people who might care. Or at least care enough about me to say, "Hey dude, nice cabinet."

Hobby Storage Cabinet

With the big project out of the way, I'm shifting into finishing up the small projects that I got started but haven't yet finished. I mentioned in previous weeks that I am putting the final touches on the drawers and trays in the hobby storage cabinet. I've got veneer and finish on four of the eight trays and am in the process of putting polyurethane on another two. This weekend I sanded the false fronts for the drawers flat, sanded them smooth and started putting polyurethane on them.

Fitting the drawer false fronts got interesting when I remembered that when I was putting shelves in the cabinet I wasn't perfect. One side of the drawer opening is about 1/8 inch lower than the other. Since the drawers are level with the case bottom the bottom drawer front is rectangular. The top one needed to be fitted and have about 1/8 inch more taken off the left side. I thought about pulling out my tapering jig but instead I decided to mark a line and use a hand plane to shape it.

I'm not really a hand tool woodworker yet but I would like to be. I don't want to be a pure hand tool woodworker; however, some things are easier done by hand than spending 20 minutes to set up a tool.

It worked out great. I was very happy with the result and it fit great.

Those pieces are out in the garage getting finish on them.


I also started putting an outdoor penetrating oil finish on my Kubb set. I was sloppy with the first coat. I debated skipping the second coat but it was nice out today so I put a second coat on all the pieces. They look a lot better.

The first coat took most of a week to dry to the touch so I suspect the second coat will as well.

Gaming Table Accessories

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned previously that a friend of mine has one of those cool game tables that has a removable top with a recessed playing surface. These kinds of tables allow you to leave a game in progress but still use the table as a table. Anyway, the company that built his table went out of business and the accessories are no longer available. He asked me if I could make him a couple extra cup holders so I am.

I've been working on this for probably six months or more. It was a bit lower on my priority list. In any case, I'm going to finish them now. This weekend I milled a groove for the latches that keep the accessories from falling out of the slot in the table skirt. I had to do a bunch of back routing so I took it very slowly.

I'm hoping to mill the latch pieces and maybe start gluing the latch covers into the accessories tomorrow night. With any luck this will go quickly from here on out.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Gaming Console Console DONE!

My Gaming Console Console is done! Yes, I am extremely happy. I'm happy it is done. I am happy that it came out as well as it did. I am happy that I tried a couple of new things and they all worked out.

New cabinet all loaded up

New cabinet shelves
I'm pretty sure I mentioned in a previous post debating between glass and plexiglass and finally deciding on glass. You can see in the photo immediately above that the glass is a little shimmery. That's due to the bubbles in the glass.

If you are wondering why something looks a little off, it's probably the pull on the top drawer. When I bought the pulls from Lee Valley I bought the Mission style knobs that are on the bottom two drawers and the door and I also bought some pulls called "Rio". I really like the styling on the Rio knobs but they are just too large for the cabinet. One of the Mission style knobs was miss-threaded and has been sent back to Lee Valley for replacement. The Rio knob is standing in until the replacement arrives.

How is the Lee Valley replacement process? So far, it is super easy. They have a PDF you can download and fill out itemizing the parts being returned. They'll refund shipping if you ship the item back yourself. Alternately you can print a shipping label that includes postage. I went this route. I think it was Wednesday that I put it into the mail. I'll let you know how long it takes to get a replacement.

Prototype on the left, new one on the right
Yeah, there is some dust on the glass in the above photo. I'd just brought the door up from my workshop. 

Installing the glass was interesting. This is the first time I've made a door with glass in it. I was a bit worried about hammering nails into the glass stops but then I remembered that the glass only cost $15. If I break it I can just buy another piece. As it was, everything went fine. I found some 18 ga wire nails that were 5/8 inch long. I put some tape on my smallest drill bit to mark it about 1/2 inch long, just shorter than the nail. I pre-drilled all the nail holes through the glass stop and into the frame just shorter than the nail. The holes were a slip fit for the nail so I hand pressed them in as far as they would go then just tapped then home with my smallest hammer. I didn't bother using my nail set to recess them.

Since I'd mounted the door in the cabinet once already for fitting, mounting it this time just required putting the hinges on the door then putting it in the cabinet. To add the spring catch I figured about where I wanted to mount the male part on the door, marked it with a white pencil, transferred that mark to the cabinet and inset the female part approximately as deep as I thought it should be. Turns out it was just about perfect so I left it as it was.

The last thing I had to do was take the shelves to my router table to route a recess into the bottom to lock the shelves to the shelf pins. I used a 1/2 inch (or was it a 5/8 inch) bit to make a 1/4 inch deep recess. I was fortunate in that my shelf pins were spaced exactly the same in the front and the back so the same router table setup allowed me to route all four recesses. The only downside was I needed to back-route two of the recesses on each shelf. It worked fine, I was just super careful to take it slow and make sure the shelf didn't get away from me.

Anyway, it is done. I looked back through my blog and it looks like I started it just about the same week that Covid became a concern here in NY. Let's call it about 20 weeks from start to finish. These kind of projects always feel like they should just take me a weekend or two in the beginning; however, I never end up spending full weekends in my shop so the projects stretch longer (much longer) than a couple of weekends. But as I started this paragraph, it is finally done.

Next, it is summer time. I've still got some small projects to finish. I also have to start thinking about what I want to build next winter and start my planning. Maybe doors for my dust collector closet. Maybe a real workbench. Maybe more magazine boxes. We'll see...

Stay safe everyone!

Covid 19 Week 18 - Gaming Console Console Assembled

I decided! I decided to go with glass for the gaming console console door. The only glass my glass guy had that wasn't just clear was glass that has some bubbles in it. It's much more clear than I was hoping for but I'm hoping that it breaks up the outlines of the game consoles inside the cabinet. Mostly I'm getting to the stage where I just want the project done. I don't have a stream of people walking past my consoles every day to remark on the beauty of the glass in the door. Also, since I am using glass stops I can always easily replace the glass later if I change my mind.

Speaking of glass stops, I milled them out of one of my off cuts over the weekend. My glass stops need to be about 1/4 inch square and I need about 60 inches of them. I took one of my straight grained off cuts and resawed it twice (three times?) to get four pieces. The pieces were so wibbly-wobbly that I used my drum sander to clean them up and thickness them. This worked pretty well.

Our weather has been pretty nice (highs of the low 80's) over the last few days so I've been able to get two or three coats of polyurethane per day. I gave them about six or nine coats. They're going to stand a little proud of the inside of the door.

I had enough pieces of the cabinet finished to start assembly so I did. I started by adding the top to the case. That wasn't too bad. I just had to be careful to not drill through the top when drilling pilot holes. I flipped the top upside down on a pair of saw horses (actually two pairs of stacked saw ponies), set the case upside down on top to get it centered and squared up then drilled pilot holes using the holes I drilled in the top rails way back at the beginning of this project. I wrapped a piece of tape around the drill bit to act as a depth stop.

I'd previously fit the drawer fronts before finishing them. I was smart and marked the drawer fronts and the drawer boxes so I'd know where they fit in the stack of drawers and so I could match up the false fronts with the appropriate drawer box.

Unfortunately I was too smart. I'd made my marks on the faces that would be screwed together so after fastening the fronts onto the boxes I could no longer tell which one was which. Figuring that really they just needed to look good I decided to just go trial and error rather than taking them apart.

A little trial and error and I got the top two drawers looking right. Unfortunately somehow I'd misaligned the false front on the bottom drawer. I really don't know how this happened but it was extra frustrating because now that I had the top and back on the case I didn't have easy access to fix it from the top or the back. I had to awkwardly reach in from the front. Especially annoying since it took me two tries redrilling and setting screws to get it right. All is well that ends well, right? Well, if the extra holes inside the drawer bother me, I can just make a new one.

The next crisis came when I went to add the pulls onto the drawers. One of them didn't go on straight like I had cross threaded it but when I double checked I'd threaded it correctly, the pull was just mis drilled/threaded. Fortunately I had a spare. Well not a spare, but I had the pull meant for the door that I could use, and I did. I'll have to contact lee valley about getting a replacement. I've never had to use their customer service before so this'll be a first for me. I'll let you know how it goes. I'll use a spare knob on the door until I get a replacement.

The last thing I noticed when sliding my shelves into place is that they are very slippy. They're not likely to get a lot of forces other than gravity acting on them just sitting in the cabinet but I can just envision the top shelf slipping for some reason (moving the cabinet maybe) and crashing down on the middle shelf and then having a mess of shelves and game consoles smashing through my glass door. To mitigate the risk I'm just going to mill some detents into the bottoms of the shelves so they'll have a positive stop.

So close to being done. I need to install the glass in the door, drill a hole for the door pull and install a temporary pull, install the door and latch, and finally cut some detents in the shelves. That's a long list of things but they're all relatively small.

That's where I am at with the gaming console console. A few hours this weekend and it should be done-done. Well, except for the door pull which probably wont be here by then.

I did get a bit of other stuff done over the weekend. I got two more false fronts glues to the trays in the storage cabinet. I got enough coats of polyurethane on them to call them done and put them into the cabinet tonight. Tomorrow is supposed to be thunderstorms and it is also a workshop night so I'll probably start another two.

I put also put a coat of outdoor finish onto my Kubb set. It was really hot in my garage when I applied it. Hot enough that my wife came out to check on me to see if I'd passed out. It was also a pretty messy job. I managed to not get the finish all over everything but I didn't do the neatest job on the set. I haven't decided yet if I am going to put the second recommended coat.

Anyway, that's all for the last week.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Covid 19 week 16 & 17 - More Console, plus, plus

Oh my gosh, it's been two weeks since I posted last. Well, it isn't because I've been busy doing woodworking and it isn't because I got sick.

Let's do the Covid update...  New York State is doing fine. Our infection rate across the state is between 1% and 2% fluctuating by the day and week. We're still not fully reopened; however, on the rare occasion I've been out of the house you wouldn't be able to tell that we were all practicing safe distancing by the number of cars on the road. After all, they must all be going somewhere.

I had to go to Home Depot to pick up a wax ring for one of my toilets that started leaking. I figured if I had to be there anyway I may as well pick up some other supplies that have been on my list. Apparently everyone else also thought Friday afternoon at 4p was the time to go buy paint too. Well, other than an older woman who didn't understand distancing it all worked out okay. At least so far...

Anyway, I've been putting my standard wipe on polyurethane on my Gaming Console Console. It's been going a bit slowly because we had about four or six days of 90 degree F weather and at best I could sometimes put a coat on in the morning before work. Even then there were some mornings I skipped it due to the heat and humidity.

Even with the hot weather I was able to finish the polyurethane on my case, door, drawer fronts, and shelves. The last - sort of - step is to get some polyurethane on the case back and then assemble. I say it is sort of the last step because I still need to get some glass for the door and then put it in with some glass stops I haven't milled yet. I'm still waffling on whether to go with glass or frosted plexi-glass.

Over the weekend I only put a few hours into the workshop. It's summer and we had a couple of beautiful days to spend outside. Well, we got some rain too but the weather cooled down to bearable temperatures. What I did spend time on this weekend was some shop cleaning and trying to get some of the small projects that built up out of the way, or at least moved forward.

Remember the hobby storage cabinet I made for my wife? The plan was to put some 1/4 inch hardwood veneer on the trays and 3/4 inch hardwood false fronts on the bottom drawers. Aren't they all drawers? Sure, in a way. But I have drawer slides on the bottom two and the top eight are just loose fit and sit on a shelf. It's also convenient to distinguish between the two types by calling them drawers and trays. The trays are also a lot shallower.

Anyway, I finished ripping my red oak into 3/8 inch panels and planed them down to about 1/4 inch and sanded them to 80 grit. Next I needed to mill 3x5 card holder slots. The current trays have 3x5 cards clipped to them using a binder clip. It's unattractive and wont work after I add the 1/4 inch oak. So, the idea was to cut out a window slightly smaller than 3x5, then route out space on the back of the veneer to slide the card into.

I made a template.

I used this to trace out the window shape that I then cut out using my jigsaw and band saw. I used both tools because my jigsaw set up enough vibration in the thin veneer that it was causing the oak to splinter and break. So I used the jigsaw to make the vertical cuts and the band saw to clean out the waste at the bottom. I then used a rabbeting bit to clean out the card slot on the back of the veneer.

Then it was just a matter of sanding up through 180 grit with my random orbit sander and rounding over the square edges with my sanding block.

Since the cabinet is fully loaded we just emptied two trays, a 4 inch and a 6 inch which I added the veneer to and then while I was putting polyurethane on the gaming console console I also put some on the veneer. I didn't bother putting poly on the actual trays.

So, two trays are now done and I have another 4 inch and 6 inch tray in the workshop ready to have veneer applied to the front. I've also glued up two 3/4 inch thick panels to turn into fronts for the drawers. I really like the look of the two poplar drawer handles I made but I think I'll probably make two new ones out of red oak so they match. Or maybe I'll make them out of a contrasting wood like walnut if I still have any.

The other thing I worked on over the last two weeks were some cup holders for a friend's table. He has one of those gaming tables with a removable lid that has a channel along the skirt that accessories can be locked into. What I was working on this last week was making the slot to hold a peg that is used to lock the holder in place. I've had this project in progress for much of the last six months to a year. Time to get them finished.

This coming weekend? Glass in the gaming console console door and mounting it in place. Finish those cup holders for my friend. More tray and drawer fronts for the hobby supply cabinet.

The Gaming Console Console is almost done. Hopefully it'll all be done this week.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Covid 19 week 15 - More finishing

Covid 19 update...  New York State is still reopening slowly. Pretty much all of NYS is in phase 4 which allows most businesses to be open. We can actually go into stores now to buy things. Most are requiring people to wear masks and in the limited times I've been out with just a few exceptions people are doing that.

This last weekend was beautiful. There was some intermittent rain but the temperatures were quite mild for this time of year. I started putting my normal wipe on polyurethane on the top, the case, and one of the shelves. I would have liked to do everything at once but I just don't have enough room in my garage nor do I have enough horizontal surfaces to lay everything out at once. I got about five coats on over the weekend, and a couple more coats on yesterday and today.

The carcass is done excepting the bottom. Yeah okay...  I know that means the carcass isn't done. I've done all the delicate parts that need to have care taken to make sure I don't get drips, sags, etc. I cannot just slop it on the bottom but I'll have to be really sloppy to make a mistake now.

The shelf is done. Sure it could use another couple of coats but it's done enough. It's going to be inside a cabinet behind a door.

The top isn't done yet. It's gotten as many coats as the carcass and  the shelf but it's going to suffer the most use and abuse. I want the top to have a nice thick coat of polyurethane to protect it. Might be a little overkill since it already has nicks and dents that were me making boneheaded mistakes during construction. But that's water under the bridge. May as well protect it from future dents and dings.

That's pretty much all the woodworking I got done over the weekend. We had multiple puppy play dates. I mowed my yard. I cleaned my workshop. I got other stuff done, it just wasn't an all-woodworking all-the-time weekend. It's summer time here in upstate New York and I've got to enjoy the weather while it is here.

Since it is summer I'm past the end of my woodworking season which is typically November through May though I have to admit I usually go a bit long due to over committing to projects. While I wont be spending as much time in my shop over the next few months I still need some small projects for bad weather days. I need to finish putting false fronts on the trays in my wife's storage cabinet. I've got a cup holder a friend asked me to build for him. Oh, and some picture frames. These projects should be sufficient for awhile anyway.

The last consideration I have is what to do with the temporary console I built as a prototype. I had two different takers for my temporary console but both people backed out. One of them got another piece of real furniture, the other decided it wasn't nice enough. So be it...  It's served its purpose which was to see if the proportions I picked were adequate and pleasing. I don't really need another horizontal surface in my house so I'm probably going to break it down into scrap wood.

So next is probably another week of polyurethane. I've got to make the glass stops for my door. I need to decide if I want to buy the only piece of textured glass my glass guy has or if I am going to use the piece of plexiglass I bought a few weeks ago at home depot.

What? No pictures again?


I'll post pictures in a couple of weeks when everything has been poly'd and assembled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Covid 19 week 14 - finishing the case

I started the weekend off strong. Friday afternoon I called my local woodworking store and ordered a 40" metal ruler and I called my glass guy to order glass for the door. Unfortunately my glass guy didn't have any textured glass that was suitable for my project and my local woodworking store didn't have any mineral spirits. So, when I was out doing my running around doing my best to stay away from people I ducked into my local Home Depot and picked up a piece of plexi-glass and a gallon of mineral spirits. I didn't want a gallon but that's all they had.

Friday evening I jointed and planed the boards for the shelves and planed the toe kick down to about 3/4 inch thick. Then I glued up the shelves.

With the prep work from Friday night I was able to use my new ruler to trace out an arc on the toe kick and cut it to shape on my band saw. I went real slow and cut very close to the line. Then sanding...  I cleaned up the curve on my oscillating spindle sander, then I used the off-cut and some 150 grit sandpaper to fair the curve.

I then broke out my random orbit sander and cleaned up the faces of the toe kick and the shelves. It was a lot of sanding but frankly the Sapele cleans up a lot faster than the white oak of my previous projects so it wasn't that bad. I did have to use some 60 grit sandpaper on one of the two shelves but it still went pretty quickly.

To finish up the day I glued the toe kick to the bottom of the case.

Sunday morning was our weekly puppy play date. Jackson from across the street and Yogi from around the corner came over and more or less sat in the shade together with my pooch for a couple of hours. There was some light playing but it was really too hot for the dogs to do much more than some half-hearted stick chewing.

Sunday afternoon was final sanding of all the edges and basically getting the parts ready for finish. I rescued my saw ponies from my finishing room that my wife is using as an office during this pandemic and set them up in the garage. I started cleaning up the pieces with shop towels and the mineral spirits I'd bought on Friday. It was miserably hot in the garage. I was just able to bear it but the biggest issue I had was the sweat dripping on the work pieces as I was trying to clean them off. I did my best and only got a couple of drips on everything. I hoped for the best.

"The best" was not what I got. After the mineral spirits evaporated I found that I had a number of blotches in various parts of the project. I had been wearing gloves but apparently they left marks on the projects. I waited overnight to see if perhaps it was just the mineral spirits taking a long time to evaporate but alas, Monday morning the blotches were still there. I grabbed some 180 grit sandpaper and went to town. It was pretty warm but again I managed to keep my drips of sweat off the project. After sanding out the blotches I again ran a shop towel with mineral spirits over everything to clean the dust off.

After work Monday afternoon I went out to check on how everything looked and while the blotches were really gone it looked like all the wiping down had done was smear the dust all over the project. It was extra apparent on the side panels I'd already finished. So, it was time for more shop towels and mineral spirits. This time with nitrile gloves instead of synthetic vinyl. I'm kind of thinking that perhaps the mineral spirits degraded the synthetic vinyl and is what caused the blotching. Moral of this story is to not be lazy and walk up the extra flight of stairs to get the appropriate kind of gloves for the project at hand.

Anyhow I digress...  This time - with nitrile gloves - I made sure to refresh and replace my paper shop towel frequently and kept wiping down the surfaces until I was picking up very little residue. It took a while and was hard on my feeble wrists but I think the project is actually ready for finish.

Then today (Tuesday) while looking at the project I remembered that I was going to add a magnet to the door which required me adding a block of wood to mount the magnet in. My original plan was to use a door catch from Lee Valley. Specifically one of these spring catches. The problem was that the springs are actually pretty strong and I just needed a little bit of force to keep the door closed, not a lot. A tiny magnet would work just fine.

Then this afternoon I was looking at the catch I realized that I could reduce the amount of force needed to separate the spring catches by using a pair of pliers to pinch the sides of the triangle together (sorry, no pictures today - you'll just have to look at the picture in the link above and use your imagination.) It seemed to work so I'm going to use the catch rather than wedge a block and a magnet into place. Yay, back to being ready to put finish on.

But, no finish today. It's been hot and humid today so I didn't want to risk the finish curing weirdly. At least the rain will be good for my yard. It's been getting pretty dry. Hopefully we'll have some nice weather later this week and I can start putting my finish on. I'm still a couple of weeks away from finishing this project but the end is in sight.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Covid 19 week 12 & 13 - Gaming Console Console Progresses

Well, it has been almost three full months since NY State went on Pause. Deaths in our state have decreased from our high of almost a thousand a day to low double digits. The state is doing around 55 thousand Covid 19 tests every day and across the state the infection rate is around 1%. This is down from a much higher number but I don't think comparing infection rates from when the only people getting tests were ones showing symptoms to now where pretty much everyone can get one if they want to is reasonable.

In any case, our state is opening back up. Slowly, but it is opening.

I did get into the shop this last weekend for a few hours. Unfortunately my Saturday hours were impeded by a sudden puppy play date and other unfortunate circumstances. I'd just finished changing into my workshop clothes when the phone buzzed with the neighbors wanting to get our dogs together. It was a very pleasant afternoon but it kind of took up all my shop time sitting in the yard watching the pups play and chatting.

After the play date and dinner I did get into the shop for a little bit. I basically just got things set up for Sunday so I could hit the ground running. With the drawers, top, and case pretty much done all that's left for construction is the door and the shelves. Shelves are trivial so I wanted to get the door done next.

I started by setting up my router table with a rabbeting bit set to take a 1/4" wide rabbet to hold the glass. I then started taking about 1/32 inch off at a time until I had a 1/4 inch wide by 3/8 inch deep rabbet. This obviously left me with rounded corners. Cleaning up rounded corners isn't my strength but even my sloppy jobs work and practice makes better. I set my calipers to the width of each rail and stile and used them to mark the line I needed to chisel to.

Then this is where the unfortunate thing happened. I got the first corner done and was starting on the second when the power went out. When I first set up my workshop I did a few things to deal with this kind of situation. I'd made sure the lights in my workshop were on a separate circuit from my workshop so if I managed to overload the circuit by running too many tools I'd still have lights. I'd also put an emergency light next to the stairs out of my shop so that I'd have light in case I'd lost all power. My fear was using a power tool that needed time to wind down when the power went out. I wanted to have enough light to be able to stop whatever I was doing and get out of my shop safely.

Unfortunately the emergency light quit working a number of years ago and I'd removed it. No worries, I'd just wait until the generator turned on. The generator did turn on but that's when I learned that my workshop lights were not on the generator panel. So be it...  Fortunately I didn't have too many of my mobile tools pulled out and I had a relatively clear shot to the stairs. I just waited for my eyes to adjust and carefully walked to the stairs. Next time I have an electrician over to the house I'm going to have them put my workshop overhead lights onto the generator.

Anyway, turns out it was only half our block that lost power...  My neighbors across the street having power didn't help me any so I mowed my yard. By the time I was done we had power back.

That evening I got back into the shop to finish chopping the corners square.

I think I did okay...

The door still needed to be fit to the opening. The door as I built it only had a 1/16 inch gap at the widest in the opening. Why do I say, "at the widest"? Well, while the door is square the case is only mostly square. Over the width of the opening the door gap ranged from around 1/16 inch to around 1/64 inch. If I was better at hand planing I'd just whip one of my block planes out and clean up the door to fit. Since I am not I used my table saw sled with shims to give the door enough angle to take off about what I needed.

I sacrificed one of my decks of cards to get my shims... Well... Truth be told, I only sacrificed the cards numbered 2 through 8 and made the rest of the deck into a Euchre deck. I was too tired to want to start cutting my door that evening but I did check to see if the cards would work as shims and it certainly looked like they would.

In any case, this worked fairly well. I set the door on my sled and kept adding cards until it looked like I was going to take off enough to make the door side fit the opening. It actually worked out pretty good. I took it slow and careful and took a little bit off all sides of the door to keep it relatively even.

I used my new shims to make sure the door had the right gaps all around.

Now, to be honest I don't remember exactly which days I did the following work on. I did get into the shop a number of evenings and the weekend of week 13.

I mounted the door by using a little bit of tape on the case side of the hinges, then once the door was in the right place I just pushed the door over hard enough to get the hinges to stick. After removing the door I could use my new punch tool to mark the center of the screw holes. I could then remove the hinges and use the divots left by the punch to drill holes for the screws.

Anticipating adding and removing the door a number of times I mounted the hinges to the case using some temporary wood screws to make sure I didn't mess up the final ones. Unfortunately the bit I chose for pilot holes was a bit too small so I pulled out a larger bit, enlarged the holes then mounted the hinges to the case. With the hinges mounted I put the door back in the case and used shims to hold it in place. I was then able to reach in through the back of the cabinet and use my new punch to mark where the screw holes belonged in the door. Then it was just a matter of pulling the door, drilling pilot holes then mounting it.

At the end of one of my workshop days I put together a jig for drilling the holes in the drawer fronts. The next day I removed the drawer fronts and sanded them to 180 grit then used my jig to drill holes for the drawer pulls.

At this point I have a mostly completed case. All that's left on the case is the back and the toe kick.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Covid 19 week 11 - Drawer Fronts

I started this weekend by screwing the divider panel into the case. I'd originally planned to glue the divider panel in place but I decided to just add some screws to hold it in its slot. However, it isn't going to be under a lot of stress and I am worried that I may need to adjust or rebuild the drawers. At this point I can still remove the top rails and the middle divider to get larger tools into the case.

With the middle panel fixed in place I added the trim. I started with the bottom shelf trim and then added the divider trim.

I have to admit... I had enough clamps. I'll need to find something bigger to glue up so I can whinge about not having enough clamps... While waiting for the glue to dry I trimmed the top. Suffice it to say, the top is now a rectangle. I didn't bother getting a specific photo of the top. I'm planning on keeping the edges square with no profile but since I haven't put finish on it yet I could still change my mind.

The last thing I did on Saturday was pick out the boards for the shelves and drawer false fronts. Seems like this shouldn't be that big of a deal but since I decided to use hardwood for the shelves instead of plywood I have to be more frugal about waste while maintaining quality. I have just enough Sapele left to get two shelves and the three drawer fronts. I'll end up with just a couple of board feet of scrap that could maybe used on another project.

Sunday I laid out my drawer fronts on the selected board. I decided to get a picture of it because while I have paid attention to matching grain in the past I don't think I've talked about it much. The easiest way to do this for small parts is to create a template. I made mine out of some poster board that I keep for this purpose.

The template is pretty simple and quick to make but it gets me a few benefits. First, it makes it much easier to visualize what the grain is going to look like one the part has been cut free of the larger board. Second, it's easy to see when the grain is aligned how I want and it's easy to see when the template is misaligned.

Finally, the template can be used to mark out my cuts.

This Sapele is pretty straight grained so the skewing of the marks is somewhat subtle in the picture above; however, even you cannot see it, trust me...  the pieces were not parallel to the board.

After marking out the board I took it over to my band saw (technically, I pulled the band saw out of my rolling tool storage) and roughly cut the pieces to size - the board had already been flattened and thicknessed.  The ran those pieces over my jointer to clean up and straighten one edge. Finally, the pieces were cut square on my table saw.

I used some new spacers I purchased on to help me get the drawer front gaps even and to fiddle with the drawer front sizes. Basically I test-fit the drawer fronts using the spacers to judge my gaps until I was happy.

Those are a couple of the drawers pulled out on the left side of the photo. I think I had the bottom one in place while taking this photo. I attached the drawer fronts by drilling a couple of holes in the drawer front, shimmed the false front in place then with the drawer and false front in place drilled holes in the false front and added screws. I worked from the bottom up using the already in place false front to get the spacing on the next front.

This worked rather well but if I were to do this again I'd change a few things. First, I'd give myself more than a 1/16 inch gap below the bottom drawer. I'd keep the gaps around the false fronts the same though so this would allow the false front to extend slightly below the actual drawer. My top drawer actually extends a hair (1/64 inch) below the false front which is a little irritating but no one will ever notice unless they are a woodworker and looking closely. Second...  I dunno...  I'd planed a wider gap between the case and the drawers but it appears to be working. Maybe if I were to redesign this and make it again I'd make my runners 1/2 inch wide and leave an additional 1/4 inch gap to either side of the drawer.

But for now the drawers are in and have the fronts applied. I still need to sand the fronts so they're just screwed on. The false fronts are a little wobbly right now. Maybe another screw will make them solid enough. Maybe I'll just glue them on after sanding because if I have to rebuild the drawers I'll probably have to entirely rebuild them. We'll see...

Plastic "flat" shims

Broadfix Revolutionary Flat Shims -
Handi-Shim Heavy Duty Reusable Shims -

Note: I am providing links to these products because I saw them on Michael Alm's YouTube videos. I purchased these shims with my own money, I am getting no benefit from you using my Amazon links or visiting Michael Alm's you tube page other than I really like his videos and if you support him I'm more likely to get more videos.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Covid 19 week 10 - Gaming Console Console Progress (plus distractions)

Yes, I missed posting for week 9, and week 10. I'm fine! I just didn't find the time and energy to post a blog update. On the Covid front, Governor Cuomo has reopened the Finger Lakes Region for phase 1 and Phase 2.

Phase 1 meant that retail stores could reopen and provide curbside pickup. Most of the things we needed were already providing this kind of service because essential services were already doing this; however, non-essential services have been permitted to reopen as well.

Phase 2 allows businesses to reopen offices; however, there are a lot of provisions. They must allow social distancing, provide masks, screen employees as they come in every morning asking them a list of questions about disease symptoms (apparently lost of taste/smell is a better predictor than fever), keep track of who is meeting with who for purposes of contact tracing, etc. The company I work for has already said they aren't going to open the offices before July 4th so I have at least another month of working from home.

Also, I made this:

This is a garlic oil pizza with red onion and some leftover grilled Spiedie chicken. Super tasty. This was the same dough as my last pepperoni pizza but thrown in the freezer for the last few weeks. The directions were to thaw the dough at room temperature; however, I thawed it in my fridge over a couple of days. It thawed but didn't rise so I put it on the counter for a few hours before dinner time and it rose up just fine. It didn't seem to stretch quite as big as my earlier pizza but that could have been due to the freezing or because I made a mess of getting it out of the freezer bag. Definitely requires more experiments.

Before I get into what progress I made over the last three weeks (weekends), let me show you the plywood box I mentioned in my last post.

The first picture shows the box with the lid partially opened. I added shop made handles to make it easier to take to top on and off. There are blocks of plywood scrap under the lid to keep it from slipping off. I did purposely leave a little bit of play to make the lid easier to fit in place. It's probably just a 1/4 inch in any direction.

The lower image shows a game in progress. My wife is playing this game - Arena Rex - remotely with a friend. She'll make her move, take a picture and text it to him. He'll figure out his move and text it to her and she'll move his pieces for him. It isn't how the game is supposed to be played but it seems to be working well enough for them.

On to what I did for the last three weeks.

We had some very nice weather three weeks ago. It was very nice and was the first weather that allowed me to put finish on my projects that have been sitting in my garage waiting...  just waiting...

The picture above is after several coats of polyurethane. My standard finish is General Finishes Satin Oil and Urethane that I thin 2 parts finish to 1 part mineral spirits to turn it into a wiping varnish. Clockwise from the top left is the paper towel dispenser case, three weapon mounts, the paper towel dispenser lid, the front and back to a magazine box, and finally two more weapon mounts. The little "sticks" between the bigger pieces are the bars that keep the weapons from falling off the bars on the mounts. You can see them if you look closely at the photos below.

Those pieces are all quarter sawn white oak. My plan had been to simulate fumed white oak by first coating them with Watco Walnut Danish Oil before coating them with polyurethane but while cleaning the dust off them with mineral spirits I decided I really liked the look so I skipped the danish oil and just went straight to putting on the polyurethane. Also, it allowed me to get the pieces fully finished in a weekend versus needing to wait a week for the danish oil to finish curing.

After finishing the finish I waited a day and then started mounting the pieces. First was the paper towel dispenser.

I had some jigs and my old plastic paper towel dispenser mounted on the wall at the door to my shop. I took all that down and replaced it with the new paper towel dispenser. I loaded it up and started using it. The paper towels don't actually dispense all that easily so if I was going to make another one of these I'd work on refining the opening the paper towels come out.

The weapon mounts went to the game room, got paired to the weapons and mounted to the wall using a single drywall anchor and screw that fit into a keyhole slot in the back

Yes, I know the walls are a hideous green color. I actually like it and my wife indulged me and painted the room that color for me. Let's be clear here...  that color is not her fault. Also, while the weapons look cool, none of them are real.

This was just finishing up some projects...  Let's get to the new stuff I worked on.

Gaming Console Console - Door

I dithered and hummed-and-hawed for weeks about how I wanted to build the cabinet door. There's a lot of ways to join frame and panel doors. I don't particularly want to enumerate all the ways I debated. Since I wanted it to be quick I decided on using half-lap joints. They might not be the mark of fine woodworking; however, I am getting into the part of the project where I just want it done. They've got a lot to say for them...  So long as the rails and stiles are cut cleanly and consistently they "self square" the door. When the door is closed the joints are concealed. Also...  they are very quick to cut.

Of course after deciding on half lap joints I had to decide if I wanted to cut the rabbet for the glass before or after cutting the half laps. The benefit of cutting them before hand would be that my corners would come out square. The benefit of cutting them afterwards with a router and a rabbeting bit is the joinery is a lot less complex but with the downside of rounded corner that will need to be chiseled out later.

Ultimately I decided on the simpler approach which would be to cut the rabbet after the half lap joints.

As I mentioned in my previous post I'd already milled the stock for the rails and stiles to final thickness and width. I just needed to cut them to length and then cut the half laps. There are several ways to cut half lap joints and I decided to do it by using my vertical panel cutter configured to allow me to make a vertical cut on the rails and stiles.

I built this jig to cut raised panels. I modified it to allow me to make the cheek cuts by screwing a scrap piece of hardwood vertical to the table. I then used one of my homemade hold downs to clamp the rail or stile vertical and ran it through the saw. The blade height is set to the width of the rails and stiles and the fence is set to leave half the thickness.

I then used my small parts table saw sled to cut the shoulders using a stop block.

The test joint came out fine so I cut all my rails and stiles double and triple checking every cut to make sure I had the piece oriented correctly.

As an aside, I was watching Adam Savage's You Tube channel "Tested" where he was explaining why experienced makers learned to double check everything because failure meant having to remake one or more parts. He then promptly glued and nailed two boards in the incorrect orientation and had to rip them apart.

After cutting all the cheeks and shoulders on my rails and stiles I test fit, tested for square, and then glued up the door.

Unfortunately I didn't leave any space in the joint for glue and ended up with a ridge that needed to be sanded.

I sanded the back of the door with my random orbit sander. I started with 80 grit but it was taking too long so I dropped down to a 60 grit pad before working my way back up through the grits. While Sapele is super nice to sand it still makes me a little afraid to do that much sanding. I always get afraid that I am going to end up sanding too much in one spot.

Then I remembered by Jet 16-32 drum sander. I pulled that out and it made quick work of the front of the door. I then used my random orbit sander to work my way up through the grits.

That was most of week 9.

Week 10 I moved onto the drawers. I'd purchased some 6/4 S2S poplar for the drawers a week earlier. I'm not sure if the lumberyard really counts as an essential business but they were open. I was super careful maintaining social distancing from the clerk there. They weren't allowing people in the building but brought a selection of stuff outside for me to pick through. I wore my mask, was super careful to not touch my face until I got home, then I showered and burned my clothes.

I'd wanted to use maple for my drawer boxes but unfortunately my lumber yard was a bit low on all stock so I went with poplar. I'd wanted maple for the better durability but frankly this console isn't going to get super heavy use and the poplar will probably out live me.

I resawed my poplar down to approximately 5/8 inch thick and then flattened them on my jointer and used my thickness planer to get them down to 1/2 inch thick. After I had the pieces flattened I used the hose from my dust collector to clean up some stray dust on my tools. I noticed that the collector wasn't really drawing as much air as it should be so I checked my collector bags and saw that they were quite full. In previous posts I've shown my dust collector bag changing process and this was much the same except when I pulled the hoses off the impeller I saw that one of the ports was packed full of sawdust.

My first thought...  "That's bad". If that port is blocked that means that not only are the bags full the the plenum chamber is packed with dust, the fan housing is packed with dust. If that were the case I'd probably have a fun afternoon of taking the entire dust collector apart. Also, if the fan housing was packed with dust that means that the motor was probably straining and put additional stress on it potentially shortening its lifespan.

Fortunately when I pulled out the plug of dust I found that a small plastic bag had been sucked into the collector and had gotten stuck on a filter that's right before the fan to keep large chunks of wood from flying into the impeller. The bag had blocked some bigger shavings of UHMD plastic which then caught some wood shavings which caught the dust and cut down on my collector efficiency.

Still changing the bags which were over full took me over an hour and reminded me that software engineers do not get robust exercise as part of their daily work activities. One of the problems with changing the bags is how I've replaced the lower fabric bags with 30 gallon garbage cans and a plastic garbage bag liner. The huge benefit is that I can just tie off the top of the bag and throw it out and don't need to create a huge dust cloud emptying a fabric bag. The downside is that the dust really gets packed in, is kind of heavy and creates a vacuum seal in the garbage can.

I was lamenting the torn plastic garbage bags requiring me to double bag the waste thinking it would be nice if the garbage cans had vents to break the airlock when I realized, "These are my garbage cans. I can modify them if I want to." So I flipped them over, put a 1" (ish) hole saw in my drill and put several holes in the bottom of each one. Sure, they'll never hold liquids again; however, they are dedicated to my dust collector. I hope they never see liquids.

Anyway, that was my Friday of the long Memorial Day Weekend.

Over Saturday and Sunday...  or maybe it was just Sunday... frankly, the days are starting to run together...  But I finished milling the boards for the drawers. This consisted of cutting them to length and width, cutting dados for the drawer front and back, cutting rabbets in the front and back pieces, and cutting the 1/4 inch plywood bottoms. Sunday I glued the drawers together.

I didn't get any good pictures of the pieces and parts pre-glue up but suffice it to say, these are pretty standard light-weight drawers. Rabbets in the front and back fit into dados in the sides. There's a 1/4 inch groove in the bottom of the sides and front holding the bottom. The back didn't get a groove but got cut narrow enough that it fits on top of the bottom.

I didn't trap the bottom in a groove in the back because I'd thought I would slide it in and use a screw through the bottom into the drawer back to hold it in place. Test fitting the drawers I realized I had a bit of bow in the drawer sides that made them a snug fit in the cabinet. I decided to instead glue the bottom in place - it's plywood so it shouldn't cause expansion problems - which meant it was better to glue the bottom to the back versus putting a screw into it. The clamps in the middle of the drawers in the picture above are to make sure the drawer sides aren't bowed while the glue is drying.

As you can see in the picture below the drawers came out fine and fit; though, they are quite snug. I'd aimed for a 1/16 inch gap on both sides and probably ended up with maybe a 1/32 inch gap instead. I'm not planning on putting finish on the drawers so if they swell and stick I can pull them out and hit them with a belt sander or a block plane.

That pretty much wrapped up my Memorial Day weekend. I believe it was Wednesday I got a few more hours in my workshop and made wooden slides. They're two different thicknesses, 1/4 inch on the divider and 1/2 inch on the right panel. I made the right hand slide 1/2 inch thick because then I could make notches for the stiles but allow the middle of the slide to ride against the panel which will help with keeping them from bending during use.

The slides are just less that 5/8" wide. I'd intended to get them close to 5/8 inch but when they ended up narrower I just figured I'd have a slightly looser fit. So, 5/8 inch x 1/4 inch x ~15 inches long.

To install the slides I did a lot of math. It wasn't hard math. By a lot of math I mean I just checked and double checked my logic a few times. Which was good because I got it wrong at least once.

I want a 1/6 inch gap around my drawers. The drawer fronts are going to be 6-3/4 inch high which with my 4x 1/16 inch gaps would fill the opening.  I made the bottom of the grooves in the drawer sides 1 inch from the bottom of the drawer. I then used spacers to align the wooden slide. The complication came in when you remember that my slides weren't exactly 5/8 inch but slightly narrower. So I made my bottom spacer 1-1/8 inch high. It's actually the piece of poplar on the lower left of the above photo. I set the spacer on the bottom and then the slide on top of that. I don't think I'd ever had a good plan on how to attach these slides but I ended up using my 18 gauge brad nailer and tacked it in the front and the back. I then did the same on the other side.

Then I needed to calculate the distance to the next slide. The drawers are 6-3/4 inches high so my first instinct was to make the spacer the same height. Fortunately I marked it out using the divider as a story stick and realized when it didn't work out that I needed to actually subtract the width of the slide. So I ended up with 6-3/4" - 9/16" (slider height) + 1/16" (drawer gap) == 6-1/4". I placed this spacer on top of the bottom slide to fit the middle and then on top of the middle to fit the top. The result was three evenly spaced drawers as you see above (and below).

That's a lot but pretty well sums up my two weeks of progress. Lots of stress and worry that I'd done something wrong but lots of celebration when things worked out as planed. The drawers fit, slide easily and don't bind. There's a bit more I can say about the drawers but this post is getting quite long so I'll leave that for next week's post.

But what about the distractions...

If you remember the storage unit I made for my wife's painting supplies...

The plan from the beginning was to put a hardwood false front on the trays and drawers. When I was picking up the poplar for the console console drawers I also picked up some red oak. I started cutting it to size and ripping it to width for the 1/4 inch veneer going on the fronts of the trays.

I don't have any pictures of that but I'm sure you can imagine what a 1/4" x 4" x 34-1/2" piece of red oak looks like. I was a bit tired and a bit rushed when I started and ended up cutting my boards in an inefficient manner. I ended up wasting about a 36 inch portion of wood. I need five 4 inch wide veneer and three 6 inch wide veneer. Since I am resawing 3/4 inch boards down to 1/4 inch I could have resawn two 6 inch boards and then ripped one of the 6 inch veneers into a 4 inch wide veneer.

Instead I ripped three 4 inch boards and two 6 inch boards. When I resaw these boards I will end up with a 4" x 36" and a 6" x 36" piece of scrap. C'est la vie...

That's what I get for trying to sneak in a little extra work at the end of a long day.

Fortunately I have a spare piece of red oak in my stock. Not being "efficient" is just going to cost me $10 or $15 in wood opportunity cost. I'll also probably find some use for it at some point. It is extremely unlikely these "waste" pieces will end up in a fire pit.

I didn't get anywhere past cross cutting some boards and ripping one of the 4 inch boards to length.

In Summary

I got what feels like a fair bit done. Sure, it was only three drawers but that included milling the wood, creating the drawer slides, mounting them in the case...  That's a lot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Covid 19 week 8 - small progress

It's week 8 of the NYS Pause and Andrew Cuomo - our governor - has laid out the reopening plan. Each region of the state is going to reopen at its own pace depending on how the hospitals are doing and how much new infection occurs. Our region - the Finger Lakes - meets all 7 of the criteria needed for reopening so we'll probably see some changes in the near future. Chances are I'll be in one of the last few groups to be brought back into the office as I can do my job perfectly well from home but we'll see.


This last weekend I did very little in the shop. I milled the material for the console console door down to final dimensions but that was about it. Oh, I made a pizza...

I finally found an adequate pizza dough recipe. The dough stretched fine and it crisped up very nicely. The flavor was adequate so I'm going to keep looking but I'm happy enough with this recipe.

Monday evening, I made a plywood box. My wife has been playing Arena Rex - which is meant to be played in person - via text messages. It's set up on my finishing table which works fine but the cats like walking through the playing area and move pieces and sometimes break things. So, I made a box with an interior dimensions of 32" x 32" x 4.5". I used random pieces of plywood I found in my shop. The bottom is 3/4" ply, the top is 1/2" ply and the sides are both 3/4" and 1/2" as that's what I had in scrap. I made a couple of handles for the top out of 3/4" plywood using my handle template.

No pictures right now. Maybe I'll grab some later.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Covid 19 week 7 - More Console Console work

It's week 7...  or is it really week 8 of the New York Pause due to Covid 19. Frankly I am lucky to be able to keep track of the day of the week much less which week we are on.

This last weekend I did get a few hours in the workshop. Again not as many as I would have liked but I passed a couple of milestones. Saturday I did final fitting on the case and got it glued up. Sunday I got the top glued up and spent some time prototyping the door.

I did have one small task before gluing up the case and that was to cut the Sapele trim on the top rail down. This was a simple task of getting out the table saw sled and lining the edge of the trim up with the blade and making the cut.

I dry fit everything first and as a happenstance I realized that the middle panel was sliding in much easier when there was a brace place immediately underneath it. I did a bunch of fiddling while I had the case dry fit and clamped to make sure everything would come out square. I was able to get the right side panel square and the middle divider square with the bottom shelf but the left side panel didn't also come out square. I double checked all my measurements, checked that the top rails were the right size and were not creating a rhomboid. I just couldn't get it perfect.

After much gnashing of teeth I decided to just go ahead and glue it up. The variance was so slight that I didn't think it will matter so long as I got the drawer side of the cabinet square. The left side is just going to be shelves anyway.

I added glue to the left panel dado, added the bottom shelf, stood it up on my workbench with the braces to hold the bottom shelf in place, then added the right hand panel. I added a couple of k-body clamps across the bottom to hold everything together while I inserted the middle panel and the two top rails.

I'd previously screwed the separators to the top rail so adding and clamping the middle divider into place went very smoothly. I then obsessively went back over everything to make sure panels were seated in their dados and that the case was square.

I was using Titebond 3 so I gave the joints a good 40 to 50 minutes before moving it from my bench to the shop floor. My wife was in the area so I had her help me lift it down to avoid any unnecessary stress on the glue joints. Once on the floor I was able to add screws in the pocket holes and drill and screw the middle panel in through the top rail and that pretty much summed up my tangible progress on Saturday.

I did spend some time staring at the remaining pieces of Sapele I had left and started planning where I was going to get the wood for the top, the door and the false fronts on the drawers. I got pulled away from my staring at lumber by an offer of a walk with my wife in the beautiful weather we were having. It was worth quitting early for that.

I was in a bit of a mental debate because I had planned the top to be 18-3/4 inches deep but the lumber I had was going to be at best 7-1/4 inches wide or 9 inches wide after cleaning up and straightening it. If I used the 7(ish) inch boards I might not be able to get all the front pieces out of a single board. If I used the 9 inch boards I would only be able to have an 18 inch top.

After giving it some good thought over night I decided that an 18 inch deep top would be just fine. So first thing Sunday I cut the ends off the 9 inch wide board (the grain was straighter there), cleaned up the edges, flattened 6 inches of one face, ran them through my planer with a carrier board to get one face flat, then flipped them and got the other face flat. Test fitting the two pieces to align the grain and hide the joint the best I could I found that the best looking joint was also the best fitting.

More glue, a 40 minute wait to let the glue dry then I removed the clamps and scraped the semi-dried glue squeeze out.

Setting the half-finished top on the cabinet makes it almost look like a piece of furniture.

Next I turned to designing my door. Looking at my plans I realized I hadn't written anything down for the rails and stiles. Frankly I don't remember if I did that intentionally or if it was an oversight. Doesn't matter at this point, just have to make a plan and execute it.

I found some scrap pine in my discard bin and held it up in the opening and decided it was way too wide. I found a shim lying on the floor nearby so I help that up and decided it was way too narrow. Since the pine was essentially just garbage I trimmed it down to 1-3/4 inch and held it in place in the door opening. Eureka! I cut the rest of the pine to 1-3/4 inches wide and cut them to length so I could mock up a full door. Looks fine to me.

That's pretty much where I left things with the console on Sunday. I didn't want to sand the top until I was sure all the moisture from the glue had evaporated. I didn't feel like cutting out the pieces for the door. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with half laps rather than stub tenon and groove and I didn't want to have to do the extra thinking required to cut a joint for a half lap including a 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch rabbet around the inside for the glass.

I did however, make some supports for storing some 4x4 lumber I've had sitting on the floor in my garage. These supports were patterned off the lumber rack I built for storing the bulk of my wood. I pre-drilled holes and them mounted them to an exiting wall in the back of my garage using a 4 ft level to keep them the same height and a speed level to make sure they tilted slightly up rather than slightly down.

One nice thing about being stuck in the house, it has encouraged me to start knocking off those to-do items.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid 19 week 6.2 - Console console final touches before first glue up

I got a few more hours into the shop this week and I focused on getting the final few punch list items necessary before gluing up the main parts of the case.

  • Fix shelf pin hole
  • Drill pocket holes in top rails
  • Make trim pieces
  • Glue trim to top rail
  • Create screw holes in top rails

Fix Shelf Pin Hole

In my last post I mentioned that when adding the photos to the blog post that I noticed I'd missed a shelf pin hole. It was the one at the bottom and will probably never be used but I couldn't just leave it, especially since it would be easy to fix.

I still have my story stick that doubles as my shelf pin drilling jig. To get the holes to line up I took apart a couple of the shelf pins, put the pins in a couple of holes and used them to register the jig.

With the pegs sticking out I could just drop the jig over them and it just lines up. This was even easier than the original set of holes since I didn't even have to clamp the jig. One item done!

Create Screw Holes in Top Rails

The top rails are a couple strips of plywood that run between the side panels across the top front and top back of the case. The actual solid wood top will be attached with screw through the rails. To accommodate for seasonal wood movement the screw through the back rail need to be in slots so when the top expands and contracts the screws can slide rather than splitting the top or breaking the case.

I double checked that the new rails were a perfect fit. Then the holes in the front were just drilled and countersunk. The slots in the back had the bulk of the waste removed with a 1/4" brad point and cleaned up with a chisel. I might come back with a file and make the slots cleaner but they'll work.

Drill Pocket Holes

I also mentioned in my week 6.1 post that I drilled the pocket holes in my top rails before doing a final trim requiring me to make new top rails. I didn't drill the pocket holes in them earlier in the week so it still needed to be done.

This was just a matter of pulling out the Kreg jig and drilling the holes.

Cut Trim

The side panels to my case are solid wood but the bottom shelf, the middle panel and the top rails are plywood. I need some 3/4 inch trim to cover the plywood edges and I made it thick enough to also hide the inside of the case once the door and drawers are installed. It's effectively 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch.

When I cut the legs and panels for the sides I made rip cuts along the grain in my boards so the grain in the legs would be vertical and not run out the sides. This left me with a couple of triangle shaped off cuts that were perfect for ripping down then running through the planer until they were the right size. Sapele isn't super expensive but why waste it.

Glue Trim to Top Rail

I actually only need to glue the trim to the top front rail. The back rail will never be seen as it will be hidden by the solid wood top and the back. 

The top board in the photo is the front rail. I'm using the back rail as a clamping caul to help spread the clamping pressure evenly. I left the glue up to set for an hour or so then came back and scraped the glue drips.

Drawer Spacers

I thought I was done but then I remembered that I am going to need spacers to make sure the middle divider is a consistent spacing from the right hand panel. If it leans in or out the drawers will either stick on their sliders or fall off. Fortunately I had some scrap cherry plywood lying around that I just needed to cut the pocket holes off of.

This cherry plywood is actually very nice. I did find a couple of small voids in the interior but its actually 3/4 inches thick and it is super flat and smooth

Gluing Preparations Done

That pretty much completes all the things I needed to get done in preparation for gluing the bottom shelf into the side panels. I was getting a bit tired and didn't want to take on that task when I wasn't at 100%.

Next up, gluing the case, adding the top rails and gluing up the top and some shelves.