Well, the Shaker table is now complete and ready for sale! As I mentioned in my previous post, I used 3 coats of a Tung Oil finish followed by thinned coats, about 1-2 lb cuts of shellac; I used about 3 coats on the main part of the table and 5 coats on the top. The shellac was rubbed out with 0000 steel wool and paste wax. I think the oil does a nice job of revealing the stripes in the tiger maple. I know a lot of people like to use a dye to do that, but I think oil works great, it's simple and more natural. As this is cherry, the piece will get darker over time and with exposure to sun. So, here it is!
Well, I am in the home stretch of this project. The last thing I needed to do was build the drawer and put the drawer runners in. The drawer is made of maple with a Tiger Maple front. I really like the way the tiger maple compliments the cherry, especially as it darkens. So, here are a couple shots of the drawer, through dovetails in the back, and half blind dovetails in the front.
Well, that is all for now; next time I have pictures it should be all complete. The finish for this is really simple; I am using three coats of tung oil finish and then 3-5 coats of shellac and polished out.
Wow! It has been a LONG time since my last update. I guess Christmas and New Years got in the way there somewhere. I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year break as I did.
Ok, so back to this table. Last time I left off I had milled the four leg blanks to size and was getting ready to mill the leg rails. Once I milled up the leg rails, I needed to lay out for the mortise and tenon joins. I probably do things a little different, but that's just the way I am; I cut my mortises before I do my tenons. I guess the reason I do it this way is because I have a mortising machine and the chisels are a defined dimension and I can cut the tenons to match this. Also, because the side and back rails are 5" wide, I will be using a haunched tenon in order to add strength to the joint. If I used just one big mortise and tenon, the legs would be very weak because of all the material that would be removed. So, after I laid out how I wanted the mortises to be, I drilled them out with the mortiser and cut the tenons to match.
If you notice, I have not cut the tapers on the legs yet; this is done after the mortises are cut so the legs are always flat will doing the mortises. It also serves as a bit of a reference when you do go to cut the tapers because you know to always taper the mortised side. Here, the legs were tapered on the bandsaw and cleaned up with hand planes.
Now the table frame is ready to be glued up. While that is being done, I can get the drawer runners cut and glued in; nothing special about these, just some pieces that will be glued to the sides and allow the drawer to set on and provide support from the bottom.
Next, it's time to turn my attention to the drawer itself, but that is for later.
So, as I wrap up the finish on the Book Nook, I am moving on to another project; I will post pictures of the finished Book Nook once the finish is all done.
This next project is going to be a Shaker inspired side table, very similar to the bedside tables I have already done, just different dimensions; also, this piece will be FOR SALE upon completion! I have not finalized a price yet so stay tuned. Anyways, this piece will be made out of cherry and curly maple. I am using some of the same cherry that I did for the Book Nook, procured from Peach State Lumber. The "plans" I am using call for 1 1/2" square legs (I put 'plans' in quotes because I am not really going off of one specific plan, but a combination of a few). So, for the legs I am going to use 8/4 lumber to give me that finished dimension. Also, I select a board wide enough that I can get all 4 legs from the same width of wood for grain continuity. Below is a picture of how I did that.
As you can see in this photo, the grain all lines up so you know it all came from the same board. How I keep them all lined up prior to cutting is by numbering them and putting witness marks on the end of the board.
Once all the leg pieces are rough cut, I use my Lee Valley low angle smoother to smooth all side of the legs to final dimensions. This smoother leaves a surface that is glass smooth and ready for finish; I love this thing! Take a look at these full length shavings.
Ok, enough for now. My next order of business will be to mill up the parts that will make up the sides and back. Then I will work on the mortise and tenon joints to hold it all together. So, until then...
So, last time I left off I had routed the dados to receive the shelves. My next order of business as to mill up the trip pieces that will also provide support for the shelves and provide the front lip on the shelf to keep the books from slipping off. Also, I had to drill holes to receive the cross braces that will keep the books from falling forward.
So, I milled up some 3/4"x2" pieces, routed a profile on them and also put a 3/8"x3/4" dado in the back of the trim pieces so that they will slip into the front of the shelves.
Once that was done, I had to drill the holes to receive the dowels for the cross braces. To do this, I used the same process where I lay the sides back-to-back so that when I lay out the places for the holes they will be perfectly aligned.
Ok, once that was all done, I had to take some time and put a profile into the sides of the book nook so that they weren't just square and boring. So, after about 12 tries, here is what I came up with.
I'm pretty pleased with that look and I think once it is done will give it a nice profile/look.
Ok, once that was all done, I did a quick dry fit and then it was time to glue it up! Big milestone...
Let me just first say, this was the most frustrating glue up I have EVER done. Oh man, did I ever need an extra set of hands to do this. Anyways, I got it done and below are a couple shots of the sides, shelves and braces all glued up. NOTE: notices the top back piece is also in; I had to do this because I had to put dados into the back to receive the back; you can see that dado in the pictures above.
Now, I just have to let that set for a while to dry up and then I will come back and glue all the trim pieces on. Once that is done, it is the pains taking task of removing any glue squeeze out and final sanding and then it is "off to the finishing room". I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
Alright, alright, time for a new project! I was asked to build a children's bookcase that would hold books with the covers facing outward instead of the traditional binding facing outward; kind of a book display really. I did a little research and found these are typically called a Book Nook. These are pretty interesting, and pose some unique challenges, because of the dimensions; typically they are only a foot deep, about three feet tall and about 4 feet wide. What got me was only being a foot deep; I felt that this would make for an unstable design. I did notice in my research that many of them had a way in which to fasten the top of the book nook to a wall for stability.
So, with all this in mind, I decided on the final dimensions and design. This one will be 12" deep, about 42" wide and about 36" tall. It will have 3 shelves with each shelf capable of holding about 4 books side by side and roughly 3 or 4 deep. I also decided that this piece will be made in cherry and the finish will be BLO and shellac, no stain.
My first order of business as was to make a trip to Peach State Lumber and get the cherry I would need for the project. I decided I wanted 8/4 cherry so I could resaw it for the sides, since I knew I would have to glue two pieces together. I literally had to go through the entire pallet to find the boards that would work for me, but sometimes you have to do that. So, here are the boards I picked up:
I did get more than I needed because I will be using the rest for another project once I'm done with this. My first order of business was to mill the lumber square so I could resaw it on the band saw. Some of this required the use of hand tools, which I don't mind.
Once that was done, they were resawn on the band saw and laid out for glue up. Here you can see the book matched pieces, ready for glue up. I always make some kind of witness mark on the boards so I know exactly how they should be put together.
Once I had both side panels glued up, it was now time for the tedious process of laying out for the 3 shelves. I wanted them to be equally spaced both vertically and horizontally. I did this by laying them back-to-back so that I could just transfer the lines from one to the other and know they were in perfect alignment. Here are the two side pieces laid back-to-back with the insides facing up.
Also note that I make sure to mark the grain direction; that is was the arrows are for. This just helps me keep everything flowing the same direction. Next, I had to do all the layout lines, which took a good while because I wanted to be exact and there were some design features that I had to take into account. After the layout was done, I used a router to rout out a 3/8" deep dado for each shelf and then used chisels to square up the dados.
So, my next order of business is to mill up the pieces that will be for the front and bottom trim. These trim pieces will serve multiple purposes. First, they will have a dado in them that will allow them to fit into the shelves so that will help to keep the shelves from sagging by adding support. Next, they will stick up from the front edge of the shelf about 1" which will provide a lip for the books to set into so they don't fall off the shelf and lastly, the will have a profile on them to add character. Once I have those trim pieces done, I will also begin to build the back of the shelves. That is all I've got for now....
So, the other day I was just posting on how I am practicing my dovetail cuts so that I can get better at hand cut dovetails. Well, yesterday, Chris Schwarz posted a blog entry about an article he did 2007 where he set out on the same task as I am undertaking. What he did was to make a dovetail a day until he got better at it. One of his readers, Bob Jones, followed along and did a dovetail a day for 90 days! I don't know if I can manage one a day with my schedule or not, but it is definitely worth a shot if I can get results like Chris and Bob. The blog post is below and a free copy of the original article can be found, either at the bottom of that post or here: FREE DOVETAIL ARTICLE
One of the things I really want to do as a woodworker is get better at cutting dovetails by hand. This always seems to be a crowning moment for a woodworker, and is one of the highest achievements it seems. I think it is a mental thing, but once you can, consistently, cut high quality dovetails by hand, you feel like you can do anything in woodworking. So, I'm on a quest to get better at them, by hand. I've read a couple books, watched some videos and even tried some on my own; not successfully mind you. One of the things that I have read, and watched, over and over is to practice cutting straight lines. And I thought "Practice?! Practice? Are we talking about practice?" heck, I can cut a straight line, I don't need to do that! Well, if I can cut a straight line, every time, then why can't I get good dovetails? So, putting my ego aside, I decided to do what many expert woodworkers probably did in their apprenticeship....practice.
So, I set out to cut a bunch of lines to get used to cutting on a straight line, but also cutting to my scribe line, or shoulder line. I took a slightly different approach though; see, when you practice something, you practice in the same way you would execute whatever it is you are practicing for. So, in that spirit, I decide to no just cut straight lines, but to practice the types of cuts you would make when doing dovetails, skewed cuts and angled cuts. So, with that, I grabbed a piece of 3/8" walnut, laid out a bunch of lines, and started cutting.
Here you can see that, for the most part, I can cut a straight enough line; some on the left got a little crazy, but what I noticed is I need to do a better job of cutting to the line as on several of these, I went right past it.
This is a shot of the top of the practice board. Again, consistent angles all parallel to each other. These were laid out to simulate the types of cuts used when cutting the pins of a dovetail.
Again, pretty consistent, but still room for improvement. My cutting to the line was much better on this one.
All-in-all, I think my cutting is pretty good. I definitely am going to do another round or two of practice cuts to get even more consistent; I also think I am going to practice cutting to save the line;personally, I think this is why mine just don't come out well. So, practice, practice, practice I shall do!
Steve Knight makes, or used to make, really nice wooden hand planes. Now he makes them as kits; super high quality. Here is an interview from Fine Woodworking and Steve where he talks about that transition from finished planes to kits...
Wow, it has been forever since I have posted anything! I finally finished the coffee table I was working on. It took a lot longer this time because the top really gave me fits. The wood has some amazing figure/grain in it, but that is also what makes it so hard to work with. I ended up having to build the top three different times before I got it to come out right. Here are some pictures of the finished product.