Sunday, November 29, 2020

Thanksgiving Weekend

It's Thanksgiving in the United States. I didn't spend all of Thursday cooking like I normally do. Normally I spend a large part of the morning cooking for us and my wife's parents. I really like cooking - almost as much as I do eating - so I normally try to make as impressive a meal as I can manage. There've been years I made over a dozen dishes. 

This year with Covid my wife and I are celebrating Thanksgiving alone. I settled for a smaller list of dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, shredded Brussels sprouts, corn casserole, dressing, and rolls.

I approach cooking like an engineer. I know people who can just wing a large meal and make everything work most of the time. I use a project plan.

Anyway, the meal came out fine. The turkey might have been a bit too salty - I brined it then seasoned it again - but it was fine. We used pre-shredded Brussels sprouts from Wegmans but they were sliced too thick so they didn't cook as well as when I shred them by hand. My frozen rolls failed to rise and got tossed, Regardless, it was a good dinner. The usual four hours of cooking and fifteen minutes to eat.

I didn't get into the workshop on Thursday because of cooking, eating, and an early puppy play date. I didn't get into the shop on Friday because I'd slept poorly the night before. I've almost certainly mentioned this before but I take shop safety very seriously. It doesn't mean I think I'll never have an accident; however, I can assure that I'll never have an accident because I wasn't mentally fit for using power tools.

I did get into the shop on Saturday. I had slept poorly the night before but sleeping in and then a late morning nap got me to a good state. I only had a couple of hours but I marked then cut the hinges on the door and the sharpening station cabinet. 

I started by chopping a test mortise by hand with chisels. It worked but was pretty ugly. The edges were find but the bottom was a mess. I then tried free handing another test mortise with my trim router. This also worked okay and had the additional benefit of having a very nice flat bottom. The downside of the freehand routing was that it still needed cleanup in the corners and since I was free handing it I was nervous about getting too close to the edges so those needed cleanup with chisels too.

I ended up creating a router template that I could use with a dado cleanout bit. I probably should have started with this approach but shop furniture is half about the utility it will provide when it is done and half about practicing skills in a safe environment. I found a 1/2 inch piece of scrap plywood, cut the shoulders then wasted out the middle by taking multiple passes over my table saw blade using my miter gauge to steady the wood.

Hand cut
Freehand router cleaned with chisels
Router with template, cleaned with chisels

The test mortise using the template came out so nice I moved onto the door and cut the mortises there.

I'm not sure but I don't think I've ever used hinges that require mortises. I was a little nervous that they wouldn't line up between the door and the case so after cutting the mortises on the door I put the door back into the case opening to double check my marks. It was while I was doing this that I noticed that my lower hinge was going to interfere with the sliding shelf. 

I'd already cut the hinge mortise on the door but not on the case. I decided to just go ahead and cut another lower hinge mortise a little higher on the door. It is going to be unbalanced compared to the top hinge but I don't care enough to move the top hinge down. It'll just be unbalanced. Unfortunately that also means I have an extra wide mortise on the bottom. I could fill it in with some scrap white oak but I don't think it's that important. I don't know if I'll ever notice much less anyone else. I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it.

After confirming the mortises on the door were lined up with the marks on the case I emptied all the stuff out of the case and hoisted the cabinet onto my workbench where I could work on it conveniently. I used my mortise jig and cut the lower mortise. The jig was a bit too wide to cut the top mortise so I cut it down to fit. It's a one use jig so I'm not too worried about it.

Mortise jig over installed hinge

After cutting both sets of mortises it was time to start attaching the hinges. I used my center punch to mark where the hinge screw holes were in the door, pre-drilled them then attached them with some 5/8 inch #6 wood screws from my inventory. As the New Yankee plans say, all wood shops should have sufficient wood screws. Since I had a little trouble with screws breaking while attaching the full extension slides I made sure to drill larger holes than I would have in softer wood and then dipped the screws in wax before driving them in by hand.

I was thinking about how dangerous it was to install doors. You get the first screw in and suddenly you have a long lever arm that could tear out the hinge if the door slipped. I'd just finished telling a new woodworker friend about how workshop "furniture" is a tool and if you need to modify it you do. It isn't a dining room table so if you need to put a screw in the middle of the top you do. If the top gets too many screw holes you can just replace it.

I was looking at my bench thinking about what I could do to to modify my bench to support the door while I attached the hinges. Then I had the epiphany that I could just pull out one of the drawers and rest the door directly on the drawer. As you can see in the photo above it worked great.

After getting both hinges attached I closed the door to see what kind of fit I had. I was quite pleased...

That's probably one of my best fit doors yet. No "fitting" required. This has nothing to do with the hinges and entirely with good measurements and good machining. Just made me doubly happy that my mortises worked, the hinges fit, and that my replacement screws fit the hinges well enough that the door closed.

If you look closely at the above picture you can see where I had to expand the hinge mortise on the bottom.

After gazing proudly at my door I pulled the hinges and brought the door over to my outfeed table where I could clamp it down and use my modified door pull template to put holes in the door to attach the handle.

Next step is sanding the door then off to the finishing room - otherwise known as my utility room - to apply a few coats of water based polyurethane. Other than that - and final assembly - I just have the back to cut out of a piece of 1/4 inch Baltic birch plywood, finish, and attach to the case. It'll probably take me a weeknight of evenings to get this small amount of work done but that's fine. I'll get to start on my hand tool workbench next weekend. I'm super excited about having a good bench for doing hand tool work at. I think I might order a Moxon vise kit while I am dreaming of using super sharp chisels at my new workbench.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sharpening Station Door

 So after the flurry of activity yesterday you'd think I'd have a lot of progress to report for today. Well, I don't. Took me a while to get down into the workshop, then after I finished the door I decided I'd rather take the dog for a walk than find something else to work on.

From yesterday I had the rails and stiles roughly sized as well as the panel glued and planed to 1/4 inch thick. Today I started with trimming the stiles to length. After checking that the stiles were the right length I made several very careful measurements. I measured the door opening (10-3/16 inch) and the width of the stiles (1-1/2 inch each or 3 inches total) and calculated a rail length of 7-1/16 inch (1/8 inch for door gaps). I then put the two stiles in the door opening and measured the remaining space and got 7-3/16 inches. 

My math was good.

I needed to add 3/4 inch to the rail length to account for the depth of the groove. So I cross cut my rails to 7-3/4 inch. If you are astute and playing along and doing the math alongside me you'll have noticed that I took an extra 1/16 inch off the rail length. That's because I don't want to actually completely bottom out the stub tenons in the grooves. That 1/32 inch on either side will give some space for glue squeeze out and will keep my shoulders tight.

After cutting the rails and stiles to length I set up my saw to cut the grooves (1/4 inch x 3/8 inch). I used the offcut from the rails to test my setup. It was super close on the first try. A slight nudge of the fence allowed the panels to slide into the groove with firm hand pressure. I then cut the grooves on all the rails and stiles. 

Next was the stub tenons on the rails. I used one of the test blocks to set up the saw. Fortunately the fence setup was perfect already and didn't need to be adjusted. I did have to adjust the height of the blade. The first test tenon fit perfectly with firm hand pressure so I then cut all four tenons on the two rails.

I dry fit the door pieces to make sure they worked and realized I hadn't kept good downward pressure on one of the stiles so the groove was uneven and in part wasn't deep enough. Fortunately I hadn't touched the fence setup so I could just raise the blade and take a couple of passes to clean up my mistake.

I then test fit the pieces again and then since they were fitting so nice I test fit the pieces in the cabinet.

Perfect fit so far.

I then trimmed the panel to fit inside the door. Since the panel was much wider than I needed I trimmed a little bit from one side - I used math to figure out how much - then trimmed the panel to the final width and length.

And another dry fit.

And just another check in the cabinet to see how it'll look.

After all the fun of dry fitting. I sanded the panel at 120 grit then 180 grit. Then a little bit of glue on the tenon faces and some clamps and the door was glued.

That's where I got when I called it a day. Sometime this week - tomorrow hopefully - I'll get it out of the clamps, sand the rails and stiles and then start putting polyurethane on it. I also still need to cut out the back panel and put polyurethane on that too.

I could have found more time today but I wanted to take the dog for a walk, make dinner, and make pizza dough for dinner tomorrow or later this week.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sharpening Station plus new tool

Went for a walk with the wife this morning. It was a very warm 47 degrees out and we went about 3 miles around the neighborhood. It was very nice. That was followed by several hours of sitting on the couch and playing on my phone. 

I got down to the workshop around 1:00 and started working on the door to the sharpening station. Since the panel needs to be glued and then brought down to the final thickness before the joinery in the rails and stiles can be done I started by resawing a 25 inch length of white oak. The boards I got out of that were probably around 3/8 inch so plenty of meat to clean up later.

After getting the panel glued and in clamps I started working on getting the rails and stiles cut out. I had just enough left on the gnarly board I'd used to get the panel from.

The board was pretty flat but I ran it over my jointer and then through my planer to get the other side clean and parallel.

After running the board over the jointer there was one rough spot left but since this was a 5/4 board and I'd only taken 1/16 inch off at the jointer I wasn't worried about taking that out before running it through the planer. It's a pretty small spot. I didn't notice any issues. After getting the other side flat I flipped the board and removed the ugly spot.  That still left me with a full inch left.

When I was doing the sides I didn't have to worry about getting them to any specific thickness so they are somewhere betwenn 7/8 inch and a full inch thick. However, for the drawer, I only left about 3/4" space between the front and the sliding shelf on the bottom. Fortunately my planer is very consistent and each revolution of the hand wheel takes off 1/16 inch. That means four full revolutions and I'd have 3/4 inch thick boards. I did it in eight passes to not over-strain the planer.

I'll take it. Close enough. After thicknessing the boards I ripped them to width.

Unfortunately one of the boards warped. Fortunately I had plenty of width left to correct it. I crosscut both boards to length (got one rail and one stile out of each). The rails were short enough that any bow left in the board wasn't apparent. The stiles just needed a pass across the jointer then ripped to final width on the table saw.

Getting the rails and stiles milled only took 25 or 30 minutes. Since I had used Tightbond II on the panel and needed at least another 10-15 minutes before I could take it out of the clamps. I moved onto my other project for the day which was to set up my new saw.

My Dewalt compound miter saw was one of the first tools I bought for my workshop. It's served me well for the last 20 years but a couple of weeks ago while watching YouTube woodworking videos I noticed that the new fangled sliding compound miter saws had a depth stop on them. This allowed the guy making the video to make dados across a 2x4 by making repeated cross cuts then cleaning out the waste with a chisel.

Whaaaat! I know! How did I not know these tools could do this? I've been using my table saw on short boards for this kind of thing, and a router for the longer boards.

Anyway, I decided to upgrade.

The old saw is front-left, the new one is back-right.

The old saw is still in great shape so I am selling it to a friend for about half of what I paid for it so we're both getting a good deal.

I was a little nervous about the size of the new saw. Those rails really stick out the back quite a ways. Fortunately someone asked the question on Amazon and there was an answer of "It's 18 inches from the furthest back the rails can go to the fence." Well, they were either wrong or they lied. It's actually 22 inches. With the saw set for a 90 degree cut the saw extends another 19 inches into my workshop.

My shop isn't small but I just reorganized things to get me more room. While I think the saw is much better suited for larger shops or perhaps a job site I decided I'd be able to make it work. The next step was to rebuild my miter saw platform to hold the new saw.

I briefly debated building a new platform but the old one is just big enough to hold the new saw so why throw it out when I could reuse it. However, since the new saw is much deeper the platform needed to be moved outward.

At a quick glance the last two pictures look much the same but the lower one has the platform pulled out to fit the new saw.

I moved the leg back so that it would be out of the way and would have the wall as a brace. To move the platform I screwed a ledge onto the workbench so the height wouldn't change. To move the leg I attached a temporary leg.

After putting the saw on the platform I realized that the new saw was actually about 3/4 inch wider than the old one. I cut down the 2x4 temporary leg to scab onto the side of the platform. As a bonus I extended it back to the wall to give the platform a little more rigidity.

The gap isn't a problem, in fact it's going to be a feature. My old saw did a pretty good job of throwing all the sawdust out the back. If this new saw is the same I can capture the dust by just letting it fall into a garbage can.

I have an old kitchen garbage can that I've been using for larger plywood and pine scraps. It'll be perfect for collecting dust. I added some ramps made from some scrap luan and some hardwood that I cut a 45 degree bevel on to help chute the dust into the can.

Then looking at the set up I decided that while I don't think I've ever lost anything to it falling into a garbage can this was just too risky. I thought about putting a hinged lid on it and using some rare earth magnets to hold it up while I was cutting things. That's not crazy complicated but it'd still cost me a couple of hinges. I found another scrap of luan I could just leave over the opening for now; however, when I set it in place I had another idea.

I screwed a couple pieces of scrap plywood to the wall to make a slot and then cut a rabbet on a scrap piece of 1/2 inch ply to capture the other side of my dust chute cover. I cut a hand hold into the end and Bob's your uncle.

The saw does stick out too far when it is set up for a 90 degree cut. However, tilted to 45 degrees it doesn't take up more space than the workbench does.

You can see I needed to add some 1/2 inch plywood "shims" under the saw to get it to be level with the workbench. I knew this was going to be necessary but I figured it would be easier than raising the entire platform when I remounted it closer to the front of the bench. That would have required extra shims and either making a new leg for the left hand side or shimming it up.

The old saw was held in place using heavy 3/8" bolts. The new saw is held in place with some 2 inch deck screws. They should be plenty. The bolts were over-kill.

With the new saw setup and "tested" by cutting the pieces for the dust chute and left side brace I still had some time left before needing to clean up for dinner. 

I used the time to clean up the shop putting tools back in the shop overflow storage, sweeping dust, and pulling the panel for the sharpening station door out of the clamps. I scraped the glue then ran the panel through the thickness planer until it was 1/4 inch thick. All that's left to make it a door is to cut the grooves for the panel and the stub tenons on the rails. Oh, and a little glue.

Oh! And apparently while I still contend that math is hard, I found the eighth handle I'd made for this project. It must have fallen on the floor and gotten shuffled. Yay!

All in all a very successful day. I had a lot of fun. I'm really hoping I get enough sleep tonight that I'll be able to get into the shop tomorrow to finish constructing the sharpening station door. Unless I get into the shop extraordinarily early I probably wont be able to fit it and mount it but this is a holiday week in the USA so I should have plenty of time during the week to get to it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Midweek Sharpening Station Progress

 It's Wednesday and I should be in my shop. Instead I am writing a blog post about my mid-week progress and watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the spy/action movie with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It's been a long week already and looking like it's going to be longer. I needed some decompressing time and while I enjoy my workshop time I really try to focus while I am working with power tools.

I left my Sunday post with adding/fitting the drawer fronts and applying a first coat of polyurethane. I got two more coats of polyurethane on the drawers and handles Monday and Tuesday. Tonight I put them all together with some 1-1/4 inch washer head screws. I think they are actually lath screws versus a wood working washer head screw but they get the job done.

It's looking pretty good for a piece of shop furniture if I do say so myself.

I reminded myself while I was putting the handles on all the drawers that math is hard. I'd thought I'd made enough handles for all the drawers and the door that is going on the right hand side but I came up with just enough for the drawers.

Fortunately I had a reserve handle sitting around in my hardware drawer. That's what's sitting on the top of the cabinet. When finish the door - probably this weekend - and finish it - probably next week - I'll also finish the extra needed door handle.

Anyway, I just figured I'd share the image of the cabinet with all the drawers. I love this phase of a project when you can see everything coming together. Right now I need to either go make some popcorn or maybe toaster-oven-smores.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Thoughts on Water Based Polyurethane

 My experience with water based polyurethane is pretty limited. I do have a couple of projects that were finished with water based polyurethane but I have to admit I had my wife finish them. I needed them finished before guests showed up and I had travel plans and couldn't do it myself. That was also close to two decades ago.

Many of the YouTube wood workers I watch will finish their shop projects with water based polyurethane. I figured I may as well give it a try on my sharpening station. There was going to be a lot of water involved anyway so why not protect it from getting wet. Or at least protect the wood from getting wet.

So I bought a quart of General Finishes water based polyurethane. I picked General Finishes because it is what my local Woodcraft store carried and I use their oil based Oil and Urethane varnish on most of my other projects. 

So far I have applied three coats to the case, drawer fronts, and handles. I'd been planning on putting even more coats on the case except I got bored. It isn't like I am going to be soaking the project in water. It is just going to have water splashed on it occasionally. The third coat went onto the drawer fronts and handles tonight.

I know it is durable because my other furniture - including my table saw outfeed table - has held up for close to 20 years. While I think I prefer the amber hue given by oil based polyurethane the color imparted by the water based is fine. The odor is certainly less objectionable. 

The main thing I don't like about it is the application. Sure, the brush cleans up with water but with my wipe on oil I could just drape the rag I was using over a saw horse or the edge of the table until it dried. Another difference is my wipe on polyurethane is thin enough that it self levels. I need to worry about leaving puddles but it stays wet so long I can just make sure to wipe down the project one final time and I don't have to worry about it. Speaking of wetness the water based poly dries quickly which is nice for being able to put multiple coats on in a day but I also have to be careful to keep a wet edge. Also, my wipe on poly dries (cures) quickly enough since it is large part mineral spirits to put multiple coats on in a day.

My gripes are pretty much what you expect with a water based polyurethane so there are no surprises there. But despite my griping I'll keep using it for shop projects. The low odor and sufficient protection is sufficient to sell me on at least that use. Bob Flexner says you cannot thin a water based polyurethane but this can says you can thin it by 10% with distilled water. I might try that next time to see if it reduces brush marks.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sharpening Station Drawer Fronts

 I got my drawer fronts added today.

I pulled some 3/8 inch(ish) thick quarter sawn white oak out of my scrap bin. I'd ripped it for panels in one of my previous projects but I'd done an extremely poor job so they'd been set aside and re-milled. The were still flat enough for my purposes so I finished milling them down to about 1/4 inch thick. Then I cross cut them to length using my cross cut sled and ripped them to just wider than the drawer fronts.

I centered each drawer front by feel and aligned the false front with the bottom of the drawers, except for the bottom drawer which I let run long.

The drawers are sticking out in the above image because I haven't fit them yet.

I used the holes I drilled for the handles to hold the false fronts to the drawer boxes while the glue dried. After the glue dried I used my low angle block plane to shave the fronts down to get an even gap all around.

I was pretty happy with my construction. The top three drawers are interchangeable. The fourth drawer is the same height as the top three but unfortunately I must have changed my technique setting the runners as I needed to trim that drawer a bit shorter than the top three. No worries...  I don't see a great need to ever change the order of the drawers. I did miss getting a "good enough" centering on one of the drawers but again, if this was a non-shop project I would have taken more time.

After fitting the drawers I gave the fronts a quick sand with 120 grit sand paper in my random orbit sander softening the edges while I was at it. Then I took the drawers back to my new finishing room shared with our utilities and applied some more of the water based poly to the fronts and the drawer handles.

I didn't bother wetting the pieces and sanding them before putting the poly on them. I'll just sand the fuzz after the first coat dries. Also, I noticed as I was putting poly on the handles that I hadn't sanded them after rounding over the sharp edges. Again, I don't care. This is shop furniture and I'll sand the  worst of the fuzz off when I sand the poly.

I wanted to make more progress this weekend but I'm still happy with what I did get done. I'll get a few more coats of poly applied this week. I've got one last fitting I need to do on the drawers. One of the slides got set a little too close to the front so one of the drawers doesn't fit flush. My plan is to remove the recalcitrant drawer runner, sand the front back a little then return it to the case. So long as I am careful to not break the runner it should be fine. I'll probably put that fitting off until I go to reinstall the drawers.

Next up is the door for the right hand side and the back. The back will just be some 1/4 inch plywood, whatever I can find in my shop. Might be Baltic birch, I might have some red oak, or maybe it will just be some luan. I unfortunately ran out of the white oak board I used for the case. I fortunately have another short piece of white oak in my wood rack that I should be able to make the door out of. I'm a little disappointed I need to cut into another board. It's going over my wood "budget" a little bit but all my white oak is technically left-over wood from earlier projects so I guess it is okay. It is just opportunity cost against a future possible project.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sharpening Stations Drawers Fit!


They fit...  THEY FIT!!!!  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....

If I hadn't been sitting on the floor I would have danced a jig!

Since my last blog post I put another two coats of water based polyurethane on my cabinet. I had to sand after the first coat because of the raised grain. I didn't necessarily have to after the second coat but I did anyway.

This afternoon I started by cutting my drawer slides to 13 inches using my cross-cut sled.

Then I used my stationary stander to round over one end of each runner. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of that. I basically just free-handed a slight round-over on the end of each slide. I don't plan on taking the drawers in and out of the cabinet all that often but if one comes out I wanted it to be easy to get back in.

My next step was to figure out where I wanted my screws and then to pre-drill all the screw holes.

Now to install the runners!

I created the grooves in all the drawers a consistent distance from the top of the drawers. My plan was to use a spacer that set that same distance plus 1/8 inch. I used the spacer to set the top slides a consistent distance from the top of the cabinet.

With the holes in the runner already drilled I just held the runner in place with clamps and pre-drilled the holes in the cabinet. Then a couple of 3/4 inch screws to hold it in place. After installing both runners I slid the drawer in place and it worked!

Leaving that drawer in place I added the runners for the next drawer down and repeated for the the other five drawers.

It was right after I slid the bottom drawer in place that I wanted to dance a jig. Not only did the drawer fit, the spacing between all the drawers was super consistent including the bottom and top. So I am very happy with all the drawers and how they fit. I think I left too much slop between the runners and the sides. Oh, the drawers aren't going to fall out but there's about a 1/8 inch gap and I'm thinking a 1/16 inch or 1/32 inch might have been better.

Regardless I am satisfied. 

Tomorrow I am going to plane down some more scrap quarter sawn white oak into 1/4 inch veneer and add it to the faces of the drawers. After that I'll add the handles and put a few coats of polyurethane to them.

If I am super productive I might add the back and start cutting out the pieces for the door that'll go on the right hand side.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

More Sharpening Station Progress

I spent a little time this weekend sanding the sharp corners off my carcass and drawers then prepared my sanding station to go into the finishing stage. One thing I wanted to do is hide the blonde plywood that would show in the corners. The case has square corners but the rubber mat has slightly rounded corners. I wanted to de-emphasize the blonde plywood by painting them black. I might have some black paint around but I decided to use a rattle can my wife had for basing miniatures. To prepare for that I masked off the white oak with some painters tape.

I apparently didn't get any pictures of the station with the tape before I painted the corners. Sure, it is a little messy. Yes, I didn't cover the entire thing. There is going to be a rubber mat covering the top. It'll be fine.

I've moved the sharpening station into the finishing process. I've lost my finishing-room as we've converted it back to an office for my wife during Covid. Since my plan from the beginning was to use water based polyurethane which smells a lot less than oil based and isn't explosive I moved the cart to the back of my basement - near the furnace - which is less dusty than my workshop. That wall behind the cart is actually the back of my workshop.

After giving the spray paint a day to dry I applied the first coat of water based polyurethane. 

I have a love-hate relationship with water based polyurethane. It has its benefits over my normal oil based polyurethane:

  • It smells less (fewer VOCs)
  • It doesn't carry a risk of fire
  • It's clear
  • Dries quickly enough for several coats a day
On the other hand my standard oil based wipe on polyurethane has its own benefits:
  • It adds a warm look to the wood
  • It doesn't raise the grain
  • It's thin enough it self levels so I don't have to worry as much about drips, runs, or sags
  • I have plenty of open time to move it around to get good coverage
  • Dries quick enough for a couple coats a day
  • Can be applied with a disposable rag
The positives of one type of polyurethane are pretty much the weaknesses of the other. I was half regretting my decision to use water based poly when my wrist started hurting. If I haven't mentioned this before, I have feeble wrists. During high school I worked in a pizza shop (S'barros). I got Tendonitis in both my wrists from making pizzas there. Downside is that I have to be careful what I do with my wrists. On the plus side I know how to stretch pizza by throwing it in the air.

Anyhoo, my wrist started hurting while I was painting on the water based poly. If nothing else it made me appreciate how low stress applying the oil based poly with a rag is.

I did appreciate the very low odor. I have a poor sense of smell due to being allergic to cats and having three of them. However, I try to keep the odors to a minimum so they don't bother my wife. The water based poly could be smelled when right next to the project but it didn't even stink up the basement much less the rest of the house.

This is a shop project so I was really mostly concerned with providing protection from all the water that it is going to be around as well as trying something new. Any issues with poor application would be a learning experience and not a detriment to the functioning of the project. However, it raised the grain something horrible. I should have been expecting it. I know water based finishes raise the grain. I had just forgotten.

That's where I left it for the weekend. I've got to give it a quick sanding and then another few coats of polyurethane. I need to finish the drawers by making some white oak veneer to go on the fronts, more polyurethane and then installation in the cabinet along with handles.

Feels like I am coming into the home stretch even though there is a fair bit left to do. Hopefully I get some good sleep tonight and can get a few hours in the shop tomorrow night.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Sharpening Station Sliding Tray and Drawers

 I was quite productive - for me - in the shop this weekend. I started by fitting the sliding drawer scaffolding to the full extension slides. The scaffolding was just a little too wide to fit between the drawer slides so I ran it through my table saw taking off about 1/32 inch off of each side. I don't know exactly how much as I just shaved a little bit off each side until the scaffolding fit.

Once I had the scaffolding fitting I mounted it in the cabinet using the slides. I mounted the slides resting on the bottom of the cabinet. The scaffolding is just a little shorter than the slides so I measured from the top of the slides to the centerline - where the mounting hardware is - and drew a line on the scaffolding and used that to mount the drawer part of the slides. With those in place I put some glue on top of the scaffolding and set the sliding shelf on top. I used some old bar bell weights to clamp the shelf to the scaffolding until the glue was dry.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me and missed getting pictures of the scaffolding without the shelf. You can trust me that the shelf is hiding some drawer slides and the box that I showed in the most recent blog post.

After I had that in place I moved on to the drawers. 

I measured the left hand opening at 10 3/16 inch wide and 14 5/8 inches deep. The sides I'd cut earlier this week were 3/8 inch thick and 1/2 inch high. The height doesn't matter but the thickness does. The scribble in the upper right corner of the paper is me calculating the length of Part A. The scribbles in the middle right are me calculating how long the drawers should be then deciding to just make them 14 inches. Bottom right is me working out my parts lists.

I ended up with a stack of drawer parts...

I always get nervous when working from measurements that I'll have made a math error so I like creating a couple of trial/test pieces first. One challenge with that is that once I get to cutting joinery on the table saw using a dado blade I have a very specific fence and blade height setting that I don't want to change. Order of operation is crucial and having test pieces ready to go is vital.

I forgot to make test pieces...

I did have remainders from cutting out all the drawers so I used my miter saw to cut some test pieces and created a test piece.

I don't have the slot for the rail in these test pieces but I was able to see that the box was directionally correct in sizing. Then I cut all the joinery...

and test fit a box...

Yeah, it looks a little wonky but that's just the camera angle. It is actually quite square. 

And the moment of truth...  Does a dry-fit drawer fit in the cabinet with runners?

And if the above photo doesn't give it away, the answer is "yes, the drawers do fit". They've got just a little bit of wiggle which is good. There shouldn't be too much expansion and contraction since everything but the runners are made out of plywood but still, just a little wiggle is perfect.

I was running out of shop time on Friday (had a puppy play date, then dinner to prepare) but I got three of the boxes glued up and set aside. My Friday plans were to get up Saturday, glue the rest of the drawer boxes early in the morning so that when I into my dedicated shop time I could add bottoms and keep moving.

Unfortunately I stayed up too late Friday night so I was too tired on Saturday to use power tools. Part of shop safety is evaluating your own capabilities. I will not use power tools if I've had alcohol within the last 12 hours, am tired, or have other things in life causing me to be distracted. I value my safety and that of visitors to take unnecessary risks.

Gluing and clamping however doesn't require power tools so I did get the remainder of the drawer boxes glued up. I also spent some time looking for luan to make the drawer bottoms out of. I didn't really want to put "good" Baltic birch into the bottoms. Unfortunately all I could find was Baltic birch so I decided to use that rather than make a trip to Home Depot for luan.

Sunday I started by re-measuring the drawer boxes to get the width and length for the bottoms. Measure twice, cut once. I then ripped a couple of 9 3/4 inch strips from a sheet of 1/4" Baltic Birch and then cross cut those into 14 inch lengths.

Then I glued bottoms on all the drawer boxes.

I'd originally thought to just clamp them (stack them all with some weight on top) but the first one was slipping around enough with the glue that I decided to tack them in place with some 18 ga staples. I was actually looking for my 1/2 inch 18 ga brad nails but I couldn't find them so I used the 1/2 inch staples instead. Probably a better choice anyway. I did a quick check and it doesn't look like I blew through any walls.

It was at this point where the list of things remaining on this project was getting pretty short. What I really wanted - and still want - to do was to install the drawers and see the cabinet mostly complete. Unfortunately I haven't done final sanding on the case touching up any scratches and more importantly softening the edges/corners. I also want to get finish on the cabinet before putting the drawers in.

I was wrestling with quitting for the day and decided I could get one more thing done. I decided I could cut out the drawer/door handles from some scrap white oak. I've made a number of these handles before for other projects, I think I may even have shown it. I've made a plywood template for tracing out the shape.

I traced out the first row on the board, then ripped it and a second strip off the blank using my table saw. I traced the second row after ripping it free. Then I used my bandsaw to cut the handle blanks out.

I tried setting up a stop block on my drill press so I could cut out the inside curves using a Forstner bit. It was slower and less accurate than just rough cutting them with my handsaw and the sanding them with my oscillating spindle sander. The above blanks have been cut out using my band saw with a 1/4 inch blade and then sanded using my oscillating spindle sander, stationary belt sander, and hand sanding block.

Previously I rounded the corners over using my belt sander. That always felt a little risky but if I only had to do one or two it was quick to setup and didn't take that long to do. This time, having eight handles to do, I decided to use my router table. It didn't hurt that my router table was already set up with a 1/4 inch radius round over bit.

I thought this was enough for the day and called it. I still wanted to throw the drawers into the cabinet  but that needs to wait. Unfortunately it might be a couple of weeks before I get to that point.