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.