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.