Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Progress Update, and A Quick Trip to the Lumber Yard

I thought I would take a few minutes to review the check list from the So Just How Do You Make a Corner Cabinet? post & show how far I've come with this project and how that list has actually changed. After all, the list of steps in that posting was just a best guess as to how everything would go. Since I haven't printed that list out and checking things off as I went, I'll go through it all now.

What I'm going to do is go through the list, step by step, and add "Done" to the step if it's done. Things will get moved around if the order has changed, and there will be more explanation about steps that got deleted & replaced by others.

OK, here we go!

  1. Make pattern for Top / Bottom Shelves -- Done
  2. Cross-cut blanks for Top / Bottom Shelves to rough length -- Done
  3. Cross-cut blanks for Wide Backs to rough width -- Done
  4. Rip blanks for Top / Bottom shelves to rough width -- Done
  5. Rip blanks for Wide Backs to rough width -- Done
  6. Lay out over-sized shape of Top / Bottom shelf on each blank -- Done
  7. Cut Top / Bottom shelves to rough size & shape -- Done
  8. Use router with pattern bit to cut Top / Bottom shelves to final size & shape -- Done
  9. Plane stock for Base Cabinet Sides to thickness -- Done
  10. Rip Sides for both cabinets to rough width -- This and the next couple of steps didn't go so well. If you recall, the splitter on my table saw was out of alignment with the blade, and I had to go to Woodcraft and use their machines to straighten everything.
  11. Rip Face Frame Stiles to rough width -- Done
  12. Rip Face Frame Rails to final width -- Done
  13. Cross cut Base Cabinet Sides and Face Frame Stiles to final length -- Done
  14. Cross cut Upper Cabinet Sides and Face Frame Stiles to final length -- Done
  15. Cut all rabbets (Top / Bottom Shelves. Base Cabinet Sides, Upper Cabinet Sides) -- Done
  16. Cut all dadoes (Base Cabinet Sides, Upper Cabinet Sides) -- Done
  17. Fit Sides to Base Cabinet -- Done
  18. Fit Sides to Upper Cabinet -- Done
  19. Set bevel angle on table saw to 22.5° using Wixey & scraps to fine tune -- This step was deleted
  20. Rip Sides to final width -- Done
  21. Rip Face Frame Stiles to final width -- Done
  22. Reset blade to 90° -- This step was replaced with: Cut birds mouth joints in Sides
  23. Lay out Face Frame Rails -- Done
  24. Cut all Face Frame Rails to final length -- Done
  25. Fit Wide Backs to Base Cabinet -- Done
  26. Fit Wide Backs to Upper Cabinet -- Done
  27. Set blade to 45° using Wixey & scraps to fine tune -- Done
  28. Rip Wide Backs to final width (beveled cut) -- Swapped steps 28 & 29. Done
  29. Rip Base Cabinet Narrow Back & Upper Cabinet Narrow Back to width (blade still set to 45°) -- Done
  30. Dry fit Base Cabinet -- Done
  31. Fine tune joints -- Done
  32. Dry fit Upper Cabinet -- Done
  33. Fine tune joints -- Done
  34. Reset blade to 90° -- Done
  35. Cut Foot Blanks to rough width & length -- Done
  36. Glue up Feet from the Foot Blanks, 4 blanks to a foot. -- Done
  37. Rip Feet to final dimensions -- Done
  38. Drill hole for leg levelers in all blanks for the Base Cabinet -- Done
  39. Glue Feet to the Bottom Shelves -- Done
  40. Extend leg leveler hole through the Base Cabinet Bottom Shelf -- Done
  41. Install leg levelers -- Done
  42. Drill shelf pin holes in Sides & Wide Backs -- Done
  43. Glue up Base Cabinet -- Done
  44. Glue up Upper Cabinet -- Done
  45. Cut the three Base Cabinet Top pieces to final width & rough length (best if I can get them from one piece)
  46. Route all molding profiles
  47. Cut arc in bottom of Base Board -- Done
  48. Set bevel angle on table saw to 22.5° using Wixey & scraps to fine tune -- Rather than change the bevel angle of the saw, I just used my Osborne EB3 miter gauge set to 22.5° & raised the blade to full height.
  49. Fit & miter moldings to Base Cabinet
  50. Glue & brad moldings to Base Cabinet
  51. Fit & miter Base Cabinet Top pieces
  52. Glue & brad Base Cabinet Top pieces to Base Cabinet
  53. Fit & miter moldings to Upper Cabinet
  54. Rip blanks for Adjustable Shelves to rough width
  55. Make pattern for Adjustable Shelves
  56. Cross cut blanks for Adjustable Shelves to rough length
  57. Lay out shape of Adjustable Shelf on each blank
  58. Cut Adjustable Shelves to rough size & shape
  59. Use router with pattern bit to cut Adjustable Shelves to final size & shape.
  60. Cut Adjustable Shelf Edging to final width & rough length
  61. Cut rabbet on front edge of Adjustable Shelves
  62. Cut rabbet on Adjustable Shelf Edging
  63. Fit Adjustable Shelf Edging to Adjustable Shelves (ends have 45° miters)
  64. Finish Base Cabinet, Upper Cabinet and Adjustable Shelves
  65. Install Base & Upper Cabinets in dining room
  66. Cut blanks for Lower Door Panel to rough width & length
  67. Glue up blanks for Lower Door Panel
  68. Cut blanks for Upper Door Panel to rough width & length
  69. Glue up blanks for Upper Door Panel
  70. Cut Lower Door Stiles to final width & rough length
  71. Cut Upper Door Stiles to final width & rough length
  72. Cut all Door Rails to final width & length
  73. Cut curve in Upper Door Top Rail
  74. Cut grooves in all Lower Door Rail & Stiles
  75. Cut grooves in both Upper Door Stiles & the Upper Door Bottom Rail
  76. Cut deeper groove in Upper Door Top Rail
  77. Cut arch in Upper Door Top Rail & sand smooth
  78. Cut stub tenons on the ends of all Door Rails
  79. Cut decorative grooves in Upper & Lower Door Panels
  80. Dry fit Lower Door
  81. Fine tune joints
  82. Dry fit Upper Door
  83. Fine tune joints
  84. Glue up Lower Door
  85. Glue up Upper Door
  86. Cut Lower Door Stiles to finish length
  87. Cut Upper Door Stiles to finish length
  88. Make Door Bead Edge Molding
  89. Set blade to 45° using Wixey & scraps to fine tune
  90. Fit & miter Door Bead Edge Molding to Lower Door
  91. Glue & brad Door Bead Edge Molding to Lower Door
  92. Fit & miter Door Bead Edge Molding to Upper Door
  93. Glue & brad Door Bead Edge Molding to Upper Door
  94. Finish doors
  95. Mount hinges to doors
  96. Mount doors to cabinets
  97. Mount Knobs to doors
  98. Mount doors to Cabinets
  99. Mount door catches

You can see we're slightly more than 1/2 done, and I still have to route molding profiles & miter them. To that end, I stopped at Condon's at lunch on Tuesday & bought a 5/4 white oak board to make my crown moldings & ogee molding from. The board was 5" wide by 10' long, about 5 bd ft. Since I had my car & not the van, I had them cut it in half before I took it home. So now it's two boards 5" wide by about 5' long.

The reason I bought this extra boards is because the stuff I got from Lakeshore is cut a little too close to final size for me to feel comfortable cutting these moldings. My fingers are probably going to be just a little bit too close to the bit if I try to route the profiles into these boards.

So I hope to get up to Wood Craft again one day next week, after Christmas, and rip the two halves in half, then joint & plane them square. Then I'll be able to take them home & route my profiles.

I'm probably not going to get any work done on the cabinet, and I'm probably not going to post anything more until after Christmas. So for all those who celebrate, let me take a moment to wish you all a Merry & Holy Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Miter, Miter, Toil and Trouble!

I want to start by apologizing for not getting anything posted in the past 2 weeks. It is the Holiday Season and we've been very busy with preparations for Christmas. I volunteered to join the choir at our church for the Christmas Party, which was held on December 8. Everyone had a good time & none of the glassware broke, so I guess we did OK.

In addition to all of the preparations, things have been hectic at work. My manager is taking off the last two weeks of the year; Friday was his last day. We had a lot of work to get done before he left. When I got home in the evening, I just had too much to do. This coming week will be no exception -- I still have to go shopping for Mary's gifts, and the evenings this week will be spent with our traditional cookie baking. But now, I can bring everyone up to date.

When last we met, I had finished making the base board with the fair curve arch. Next, I mitered it & cut it to finish length, along with the miters for the pieces that wrap the sides. It's not just that simple, though. I want the center of the arch to be at the center of the cabinet, so you just cut the board anywhere.

The process starts by measuring the front of the cabinet. The photo above shows me making that measurement. It came out to be 25 1/4". That makes the midpoint 12 5/8". So I measured 12 5/8" from one end & made a mark, as shown in the photo below. The picture shows the base board on the bottom of the base cabinet -- that horizontal dark line is the base board's shadow. You can see the center mark on the base board aligning with a center mark on the bottom of the base cabinet.

Next, I found the center of the arch and marked it. I now placed the base board on top of the base cabinet, aligning the two marks. Now I could mark the ends of the base board on the inside edge, where the miters needed to be cut.

The next task was to determine the correct angle for the miters. I have a Starrett Pro Site Series miter protractor that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. I figured it was time to put it to use.

The photo above shows the miter protractor on the carcase on the first corner I wanted to wrap. The photo below is a close up on the protractor's scale. If you look closely, you'll see that the angle shown on the scale is 45°.

The red arrow on the protractor's scale is pointing to the correct miter angle for that corner, which happens to be exactly 22.5°. Somehow, I got that corner to come out absolutely perfect. The other corner turned out to be 44°, with the correct miter being 22°. So you see, you can't just assume the corners will be identical & perfect, you really need to measure them and cut the miters to fit each one.

To cut the miters, I used my Osborne EB-3 miter gauge. I left the saw blade set to 90° and used the Osborne's built-in detent to set it to exactly 22.5°. I raised the blade to full height & placed the outside face of the base board against the miter gauge's fence. I used my combo square to draw a square line across the back face of the base board at the place where the miter had to be cut. I carefully aligned the mark with the edge of the kerf in my ZCI & made the cut.

The offcut wasn't long enough to use for testing, so I cut another piece of scrap at the same angle. I placed both pieces on the base cabinet to check if the miters would line up properly. They met perfectly without any gaps. Now I made a matching piece from good stock, about 1/2" longer than I needed it to be after mitering. This also matched up perfectly.

I repeated these steps on the other corner. The miter angle had to be 22°, as I said before, and I had to make a couple of cuts to get the piece with the arch in it the right length.

The photo at the left shows the finished pieces, all mitered & clamped to the bottom of the cabinet.

My next task is to make the other moldings for the cabinet. There's a molding with a profile that I call an "ogee" that I have to make. It consists of a 1/4" radius round over, a 1/16" "step", a 1/4" radius cove, another 1/16" "step", and another 1/4" radius round over. This is going to be challenging to make, as everything has to line up in exactly the right spots or the wood will be scrap. I'm going to have to use a lot of scrap to get this right. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let the Moldings Begin

I managed to get some shop time on Saturday. The weather was nice, but it was very cold. I believe the temperature was in the lower 30s. So before I even stepped into the garage, I drove up to the local Ace hardware store & bought an oil filled 1500 Watt electric heater. No, this won't heat the room quickly like a gas burning unit would, bit it only cost about $65 and it will get the chill out of the room.

When I got it home, I plugged in the heater & gave it a half hour or so to raise the temperature in the garage a degree or two. The room never got to be so warm that I'd have to break out my shorts & tank top, but by the end of the day, the temperature in there was a lot more bearable.

After that initial half hour wait, the first order of business was to work on the arched base molding that runs across the front of the cabinet. The figure above shows the piece in question.

As you can see, the arch is about 17 1/8" long and 1 1/4" high at its highest point, in the middle. The drawing shows a circular arch, but I wanted to actually use a fair curve. I drew a circular arch in SketchUp because I didn't know how to draw a fair curve. A fair curve is actually a parabolic shaped curve and generally is considered to be more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than a circle.

To make the curve, I decided to make a full size pattern using a scrap of plywood. I would lay out the curve, cut it out roughly on my band saw, sand it smooth & to the line. Once the pattern was done, I would then use it to lay out the curve on the work piece, rough cut it on the band saw, then use the pattern and a pattern bit in my router table to cut the arch on the work piece.

The picture at the right shows me measuring the length of the 3/4" plywood scrap that will become the pattern. I measured it because I wanted to center the arch in the pattern, as it will be centered on the workpiece.

The pattern piece is 33 1/4" long, which means that the center of it would be at 16 5/8".

I measured 16 5/8" from one end and made a mark. Then I used my combo square to draw a perpendic-ular line at that point. The photo above shows me drawing the center line. Then I measured 8 5/16" in each direction from the center and drew two more square lines to establish the end points of the arch.

Next, I set my combo square to 1 1/4" and drew a line parallel to the bottom edge of the pattern piece. This established the area within which the arch will be cut. Strictly speaking, drawing the parallel line isn't necessary, but I didn't realize that until later. All I needed was to measure up 1 1/4" at the center and draw a mark where the highest point of the arch will be.

To actually draw the curve, I placed a 1/8" thick strip of poplar, which is a cut off from another project that I have kept around exactly for situations like this, on top of the parallel line I drew. I drove a brad nail (by hand, not with a pneumatic nailer) into the plywood just deep enough so it wouldn't move easily. The nail was placed on the center line and so that it would keep the edge of the strip closest to me even with the parallel line.

Next, I aligned the strip with one of the arch's end points. I drove another brad into the plywood behind the strip so that the strip would intersec the end line & the edge of the board. I then drove a third brad in at the other end, placed similarly.

The strip now formed the fair curve I was after. All that was left as to trace the curve with a pencil. The picture above shows the finished curve laid out on the pattern.

Now that the curve was laid out, I ripped the pattern to 3" wide, which is the finished width of the molding I was working on. I then cut out the curve on my band saw, trying to stay on the outside of the line, but as close as I could without destroying it. The closer I could keep to the line, the less sanding I would have to do in the next steps.

I now took a piece of 1/8" hardboard and prepared a sanding pad. The pad was sized to be be about 1/3 the size of a sheet of sandpaper. The hardboard is flexible enough to conform to the curve, but stiff enough that it won't dip into any irregular areas where I had removed more material than in neighboring areas. Basically, it acted kind of like a plane. Using spray adhesive, I glued 1/3 of a sheet of 80 grit paper to the hardboard.

I clamped the pattern into my Workmate (I do not have a workbench) and started sanding to the line. The important thing is to get the surface smooth and consistent. That means you have to sand any high points down to the level of the lowest low spot and remove all traces of any saw marks. You don't need to go to higher grits; you just need it smooth. Remember, every imperfection larger than a sanding scratch will get transferred to your workpiece when the bearing on the bit rolls over it.

The photo at the left shows the finished pattern with the curve sanded smooth to 80 grit. I had to change the paper on my sanding pad twice to get through all of the sanding, and I was done with it in less than 30 minutes.

At this point, I carefully traced the curve on to the workpiece and cut it out using my band saw. The key here is to make sure you leave the line. Most articles I've read recommend that you stay about 1/16" to 1/8" away from the line, and this is a good margin to shoot for. But if you just leave the line untouched by the blade, you'll still have enough material to remove the saw marks with the router bit.

I have to admit that I usually do a lousy job of staying outside the line while band sawing. Getting a good cut when free handing curves on the band saw requires a good amount of eye-hand coordination, and this is something that I really need to practice more. As it turns out, though, I didn't ruin the workpiece on the first try like I usually do (thank God). This is good because I didn't have enough stock to remake the part.

After cutting out most of the waste, I attached the pattern to the workpiece using double sided carpet tape. Next, I mounted my Bosch 1617 router in my home made router table. This table mounts in my Workmate. I have a Woodpecker aluminum router plate that fits into the table top. I chucked a 3/4" flush trim bit in the router and I routed the workpiece. The photo above shows the finished workpiece & the pattern.

All that was left to do is some hand sanding to remove some burn marks from the workpiece, and to fit and miter everything

Next: Miter, Miter! Toil and Trouble!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Quiet on the Shop Front

There isn't much to report at this stage. We got back home from my brother-in-law's house in upstate New York on Friday afternoon, at about 3:45 pm. This was a little later than I had originally anticipated, but only by about 15 minutes. After unpacking & returning Thanksgiving phone calls we'd received while we were away, it was too late to do anything, so we had dinner.

I didn't get into the shop on Saturday to work on the cabinet, either. Saturday was put-up-the-outdoor-Christmas-lights-display day. We're not one of those houses that goes all out & puts a few hundred thousand lights on the house, but we do have two blow-ups and some lights that we put on the bushes in front of the house. This year, we added some twinkling candy cane lawn stakes and wrapped two of our new porch posts with 3" red ribbon to make them look like candy canes, or barber poles, depending on your perspective.

I had to make a couple of trips to the hardware store for the lights, and I didn't get everything up yesterday. So after church this morning, after we got home, I spent some time finishing off the lights.

I did get into the shop this evening to make a cradle for the cabinets. "A what?" you're saying. Let me explain.

As you can see from the pictures I've posted and from the plans, this cabinet is not rectangular. It's shaped more like home plate than a rectangle. I'm going to need to lie this thing down flat on its back for a couple of operations while I'm applying the mitered moldings, and maybe even while I'm finishing it. The back of the two cabinets are only about 4" wide, while the widest part, near the front, is about 33" wide. So how can I keep this thing steady while I have it lying on its back? The last thing I want is for it to topple over & get damaged.

The answer is to take 4 of the triangular cutoffs I have from making the top & bottom shelves, along with some other plywood cut offs, and make a cradle.

The photo at the left shows what I made. I am going to sand the angled edges & apply some weather stripping to help cushion the cabinet that is lying in the cradle. It will help compensate for angles that aren't exactly identical between the back of the cabinet & the pieces I used, plus it will prevent the unit from sliding in the cradle.

In a comment to one of my earlier postings, Neil from Furnitology Productions asked me what the back of the unit looked like. The picture at right is a long delayed response to that comment.

If you look closely, you can see some damage to the back that occurred yesterday. After I had glued this up, the backs wouldn't stay in proper alignment with each other. In hind sight, this was probably because I'd run out of brads in my nailer & didn't realize it.

I ended up grabbing two of the triangular blocks I made for gluing up the birds mouth joints I'd made & applying them to the back with hot melt glue, then placing a 12" K-body across the blocks. This closed everything up, and I left the clamp in place when I put the cabinet back into the unheated shop the morning we left for upstate New York.

So last night, I was in the garage at one point looking for something I needed for the lights, and I saw that clamp hanging off the back. So I removed it, returned it to its home in my clamp rack, and then knocked the blocks off with my fist. Apparently, either the glue set really well, or the cold affected the bond, because two small pieces of one of the back panels came off with that block. Something similar happened on the other back.

I'm not too worried about this damage, though, since they are parts that will never be seen except for when the dining room gets painted once in every few years.

It doesn't look like I'll be getting much time to work on it next weekend, either, at this point. We have a function to go to next Saturday, and my daughter & I will be attending a Christmas ornament turning class on Sunday. We'll see what I can squeeze in.

Anybody have any recommendations on a good radiant heater? I gotta warm that garage up soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let's Glue It Up!

I finally did the glue-up today. It went well, though I did have a few brads blow out. Luckily, only three of them blew out on the inside of the cabinet, and two of these were very easy to fix. The third one I'm not sure how to handle just yet.

I started yesterday by bringing almost everything I needed to do the glue up into the heated portion of the house last night. This included all of the parts I'd made, my compressor, brad nailer, the oil the gun needs, and my corded drill. I left all of the screws in the garage along with my saw horses and the 2x4s I keep on it in the garage.

This morning, I laid a drop cloth on the carpet in the family room & brought in the saw horses & two 2x4s. I set these up as the platform for the glue up. The 2x4s are relatively straight, so I get nice straight, square assemblies from them.

Once the horses were set up, I stared by gluing & screwing the base cabinet face frame together. What I did was apply some glue to the end of the rails. Then I dipped my acid brush into some water & used it to thin & spread the glue around. This essentially creates a "glue size" which gets absorbed into the end grain. The size sets up in the end grain & more or less blocks them up. This allows any glue applied subsequently to stay closer to the ends of the board & form a stronger bond. It's still an end grain to long grain joint, so it's not as strong as a long grain to long grain, just stronger than an end grain to long grain joint would be if you didn't use the size.

After waiting about 10 minutes, I applied full strength glue to the rails & the stiles. Then I put some waxed paper above & below the joint and clamped the stile to the rail using the face clamp that came with my Kreg K3 Master System kit. This ensured the faces of the boards would be aligned, more or less, after the screws were driven. Finally, I drove the screws in.

The picture at the left shows the face frame while I was putting it together. As you can see, I clamped the face frame stiles to the 2x4s first. This kept these parts in the proper alignment so I could lay the rails flat while gluing it up. This just made my life so much easier than it would have been had I let the 6" long side lay flat.

After gluing the face frame together, I glued in the bottom shelf. I spread glue in the dados and along the top of the face frame bottom rail. Then I spread more glue on the front & short side edges of the shelf and laid it into the dados. It turns out the extra glue really wasn't necessary. There was nothing wrong with the way I did it here, but I had more clean up to do. Luckily, most of the extra glue ended up squeezing out under the shelf, in the space between the shelf and the floor and won't be visible, ever.

After cleaning up the squeeze out, I glued in the top shelf. I used less glue but still had a good bit of squeeze out.

Next, I connected up my brad nailer to my compressor hose & put in the narrow back strip. I shot some brads through the strip into the shelves, and through the shelves into the strip. This went in very fast.

Then I put in one back side & shot in brads to hold it together while the glue dried. I was careful to keep the brads from penetrating the outside of the solid wood parts, though I did have a few blow out in the plywood. As I said, three of these blew out on the inside of the cabinet, but I was able to break these off.

Finally, I put on the other side. The photo at right shows how the finished base cabinet looked after I finished cleaning up all of the squeeze out & the brads that had blown out.

After breaking for lunch, I got to work on the upper cabinet. This went together in exactly the same way as the base cabinet. I didn't get any brads that blew out on the inside on this assembly, though I did get a couple that went out through the back.

The picture at left shows everything after the glue-up was done.

I was finished before the kids got home from school. They have tomorrow off, and we're heading up to the Saratoga area for Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law's family. After we get back on Friday, we'll be putting up Christmas lights outside, so I hope to get some time in on the project on Saturday.

In the meantime, I'd like to wish all of you reading this a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! See ya next week!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Sanding We Did Go

I didn't get to spend any time in the shop on Saturday. My daughter had asked me several times to go with her to her gymnastics class and watch her practice. Last week I promised her I'd take her this past weekend, and that's how I started my day. After that, the family went to the phone store & we bought new cell phones. They had a deal, buy one phone & get 3 free, so we ended up getting the kids phones of their own, too.

The deal basically was buy one fairly expensive phone, then you could get three free by choosing from two more basic models. Because my wife's number is the primary number on the account, and because of some weird quirk in Verizon's system (or maybe it was because the salesman couldn't figure out how to do it), my wife's number had to go on my phone & my number had to go on her phone.

So when we got back from church on Sunday, I tried to swap the phone numbers on Verizon's web site. This didn't work, so I went back to the store and I told them the web site wouldn't let me do the swap. I was told it would cost $20 a phone to do the swap, but I could do it on their web site for free. At that point, I figured I'd go back home & try again, after asking which of the 5 different numbers on the label in the phone was the right number to enter.

Well, it didn't work, so then I called customer service. After dealing with some more phone company strangeness, the customer service rep finally got the numbers on the phones switched & we were happy. But by now, it was just too late and I didn't have the energy to do anything.

I wasn't too worried about not spending any time on the cabinet this weekend, though, because I have this whole week off. I won't do anything on Wednesday & Thursday, but today I spent sanding everything in preparation for the glue-up.

The first order of business was to remove the pencil marks from everything and hand sand the plywood parts. I figured I'd remove the pencil marks from each part as I went, then do the sanding.

To get rid of the pencil marks, I used a trick I had learned on WoodNet a few years ago. I took a paper towel & wet part of it with denatured alcohol. I then started rubbing along one of the pencil marks and watched as the line faded. This has had varying degrees of success for me in the past, depending upon how hard I was pressing the pencil to the wood to make the mark. The lighter you press, the easier the pencil marks come up, and vice-versa.

This worked very well for me on all of the plywood parts, and not so well on the solid wood parts. I guess I pressed down harder while making those marks than I thought. The alcohol did remove some of the pencil marks, just not all of it. The remainder would come off while sanding without any trouble.

This is what the same board looked like after I finished wiping it. As you can see, I was able to remove all of the mark in this case.

One of the things I learned on WoodNet was that rubbing a board with alcohol, like mineral spirits, gives you a preview of what the piece is going to look like if you apply a clear finish. At one point, while I was wetting a paper towel, I accidentally spilled some alcohol on the board. Since the alcohol was now contaminaed with wood dust, I decided just to spread it around & see what that board would look like.

The picture at the right shows you that board after I was done. I had been thinking about putting a clear water based wipe-on poly on to the inside surfaces of the cabinet, and now that I see how this board is going to look, I just might do that. I will have to speak to the customer (hey, Mary!) and see what she thinks.

After removing the pencil marks on the first board, I started hand sanding with 180 grit paper on a sanding block. This was going along fine, when I noticed a ding on the show face near the bottom. This ding was high enough on the panel to show, so I knew I had to do something about it.

The ding can be seen in the picture at right. It's hard to see in the picture, but it's in the red circle. It's not very big, but there's really no reason to leave a blemish like this in the panel when there's an easy way to get rid of it. And it doesn't require that I sand away the veneer, either.

There was a time something like this would have really stumped me, but I had a trick up my sleeve that made fixing this problem a piece of cake. I decided to use an old trick I learned from a friend of mine whose father is (now) a retired general contractor.

I took a shop towel & soaked it in water, then wrung it out so it wouldn't drip as I carried it through the house into the garage. I layed the cloth on top of the panel, as shown at right.

Next, I took a clothes iron we have but never use & plugged it in. I set it to the hottest setting it has, Linen, and waited for it to get up to temperature. Once it was hot enough, I started to iron out the ding. This sounds counter intuitive, but it really does work. Here's how.

As shown at right, I basically ironed the paper towel. (I'm wearing latex gloves, in case you're wondering why my hand looks odd). The heat from the iron made the water in the towel boil & turn to steam. The steam penetrated the crushed wood fibers in the top of the veneer. The wood cells in the veneer absorbed the water & expanded.

The net effect is the wood in the ding expanded and raised itself back even with the wood around it, more or less. This also raised grain of the wood that was under towel, so I had to sand that area again.

The picture at the right shows the panel after I finished sanding it. The ding has pretty much disappeared at this point.

As I went through the panels, I found a few more dings in various places, about 4 in all. I also found a couple of them on a couple of the solid wood pieces, and I treated them the same way.

I'd like to note that I only sanded the plywood parts on one side, the show side. I'll sand the other sides after I've finished the glue-ups, but not until I'm ready to apply finish. It is my intention to put one or two coats of whatever my top coat will be on the exterior, not visible surfaces. I'm not 100% sure of this though, and I may just leave them unfinished entirely. All of the panels will be held in place by glue, plus they're made of plywood, so there shouldn't be any movement to be concerned about.

When I finished with the plywood, and after a lunch break, I took out my PC 7334 random orbit sander (ROS) and put a 100 grit disk on to it. I then connected it to my shop vac & started going to town. The idea was to keep the ROS moving and flatten the ridges left by the planer, and to remove any remaining burn marks.

It took a while to finish sanding all of the solid wood parts with the 100 grit paper. When I was done with the 100 grit, I put a 150 grit disk on the ROS & started all over again. This went faster, since I had smoothed everything out with the 100 grit & I was just removing the 100 grit scratches. Once I finished sanding with 150 grit, I put the ROS away & pulled out the 180 grit on my sanding block & hand sanded every part.

By this point, the kids had been home from school for a while & dinner time was approaching. I had been putting all of the parts in the family room after I finished them so they could start warming up. The temperatures have been in the 40s during the day, and that's just too cold to get a good glue bond. Bringing the parts in and allowing them to warm up ensures a good glue bond. I had brought the glue into the family room a few days ago, so the glue is already at the right temperature.

Tomorrow morning, I'll do one dry fit just to make sure everything fits together right, and I'll fix up anything that needs fixing. Then I'll glue both carcases up. After that, I'll probably either cut the blanks for the adjustable shelves, or I'll just get started working on the arch in the bottom most molding.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Short Stint in the Shop

I did get out into the shop for an hour or so tonight. The kids had finished their home work & Mary had taken our son out to the arts & craft store for some supplies, while my daughter was making a turkey out of some feathers & styrofoam balls. So I figured I'd break down the dry fit & fine tune a few things.

At the right is the last picture I took of the cabinet, showing how it looked at the end of the day on Sunday. If you look closely at the pattern of the shelf pin holes in the backs of the upper cabinet, you'll notice that the left panel has four (4) fewer holes than the panel on the right. Luckily, that's exactly what the problem is -- I didn't drill all of the holes I was supposed to drill on the left panel.

So the first thing I did tonight was to set my DW621 back up for the drilling operation, then set up the shelf pin jig and drilled the remaining four holes. Since I finished the last set of holes, I purchased and received a Pat Warner round, clear base for the DW621 router. This is actually bigger than the original base that came with the router, so I had to set everything up a little differently. I basically just had to move the clamp holding the jig in place.

After that was done, I fine tuned the length of the backs & cleaned up the bevel on one of them, which had moved a little relative to the fence as I made the last cut. This went fine & was done lickety split.

I removed all of the upper cabinet's parts & marked them so I'd be able to put everything back in the same orientation Next, I used my Veritas medium shoulder plane to sweeten the rabbets for the back panels in the upper cabinet sides. I had to make these rabbets a little deeper so they would align with the rabbets in the shelves and the panels would sit flush. A few minutes of planing was all it took.

Lastly, I took the base cabinet apart, marking all of the parts, and sweetened the same rabbets slightly. Just a couple of swipes & I was done.

When I get into the shop next, I'll first remove as much of the pencil marks on the front outside & inside parts with denatured alcohol. Then I'll sand the solid wood parts with my ROS, starting at 120 grit and ending with 180 grit by hand. I'll sand the plywood panels with 180 grit by hand. Lastly, I'll glue, screw, and brad nail everything together.

I'm also taking all of next week off from work. We'll be visiting my in-laws in upstate New York for Thanksgiving, so nothing will happen on this project after Wednesday next week until the next weekend. That is if we don't decide to put up the Christmas lights next weekend. I will do some work over the weekend & while I'm home on Monday & Tuesday, so there will be more updates.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes! We're Nearly There!

Well, the cabinet carcases are nearly done. I got into the shop this weekend, in spite of the cold, and finished all of the cutting operations on the base & upper carcases. All I have left to do is sweeten a couple of joints, then sand everything & glue them up. Well, then I have to make and apply the moldings, finish, and make the doors, but most of the work is done.

I started on Saturday by finishing sizing the two backs to the base cabinet. This started by cutting the panels to size with the blades square. It turns out that I have to cut them on a 45° bevel to get the look I wanted, so I tilted the blade & went to it. I sneaked up on all of the cuts & got everything exactly as I wanted it.

Then it was time to pull the DW621 & the shelf pin jig out and drill the shelf pin holes. To do this, the first thing I did was put the back for the right side in the left opening. This put the end of the panel where the shelf pin holes had to be next to my marks for the holes I already drilled on the sides. I then transferred my line to the panel with a small mark, and I extended that line with my speed square. Now it was just a simple matter of aligning the jig on my line & drilling. I repeated this procedure on the other panel.

After this was done, I did have to sweeten the rabbets on the top & bottom shelves on one side. They weren't quite deep enough. If you recall, when I made the template for the shelves, I found that one side varied from the other by about 1/16". Well, as it turns out, this affected how the panel aligned with the rabbet in the back of the sides, leaving a small gap. I had to deepen the rabbets on one side in order to get everything right.

Here's the base cabinet after all of the work on the backs was done. This is still just a dry fit at this point. I feel very good about the way this turned out, and how quickly I got it here. I know I've been making sawdust on this project for three weeks now, but this is the quickest I've gotten to this stage on a project ever, and with so few mistakes to boot.

So after a short break for lunch, I got started working on the upper cabinet carcase. I fit the top & bottom shelves for this carcase into the glued-up sides & face frame stiles, then I measured for the face frame rails. I cut these to length, then drilled pocket holes in the rails. Next I joined the face frame together. While driving one of the screws for the top rail home, the head popped off. I was using a corded drill that doesn't have a clutch because the batteries on my Makita cordless had died earlier. So I had to drill a new pocket hole on that side.

I also noticed that even though I used the face frame clamp that came with my pocket hole jig kit, the face frame rails were slightly out of alignment on the face side. I don't know why that should be. I had the clamp good and tight, like I did on the base cabinet, so I'm at a loss on this.

After the face frame was together, I drilled the pocket holes in the top & bottom shelves. I then joined the shelves to the frame. Next came gluing the feet to the bottom of the bottom shelf. I layed their positions out & glued them. It was so cold, I had to do this inside in a heated area of the house. And I had to let them sit in the clamps for a couple of hours while the glue dried.

Once the feet were dry enough, I cut the narrow back piece to length & size. Again, I sneaked up on the right size with the blade beveled to 45°. I then went to cut the wide back panels to length & realized I couldn't make the cut with my Osbourne EB-3 miter guage, and I couldn't do it with my crosscut sled -- the panels were just too wide for either. At this point, it was dark out & I just quit for the night.

Here's the base cabinet & the upper cabinet as they were at the end of the day on Saturday.

You can't see it in this picture , but the joint between the face frame stile & the side at the top on the right has a small space in it. This is the side panel that I screwed up while cutting the birds mouth. I may have sanded that area a little bit too much while prepping it after filling the saw kerf with Bondo. The space is smaller than 1/32" , but it's about 6" long.

When I finish the piece, I will make some putty out of saw dust from another piece of white oak & some shellac, along with some stain to get the color to match. You shouldn't even be able to notice the space if I do this right.

On Sunday, we went to church in the morning. We brought one of my daughter's friends with us, and we stopped after church for some lunch at a diner in Connecticut. So we didn't make it home until about 3 pm. At that point, I figured out a way to cut the back panels to the right length, even though I didn't have anything wide enough to handle the panels.

What I did was add an auxilliary fence to the original miter guage that came with my saw. I then put it in the miter slot backwards, so the front of the fence faced me. I was able to get the boards through the saw. One board ended up a little shorter than it's supposed to be & not square, but that end is going to be hidden by the rabbet on the top shelf. The other panel turned out OK.

After getting them cut to length, I cut them to width. They're still a 1/32" to 1/16" too wide, but I'll trim that off when I fine tune everything. I'm going to have to fine tune the rabbets on the sides since I have similar problem as I did with the rabbets on the top & bottom shelves for the base cabinet, only this time the rabbets in the sides aren't deep enough.

Finally, I drilled the remaining shelf pin holes, using the same technique I used on the base cabinet back panels. Here's how the completed, dry fit carcases look right now.

As I've said, I have a few things that need to be fine tuned and corrected. I'll be working on these during the week, if the weather cooperates. I also need to get a radiant heater for the garage -- I'm getting really tired of working in the cold and winter's not even here yet.

This has turned out better than I'd hoped so far, and I'm extremely happy. Next, take it all apart, sand, and glue it up.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some Unexpected Shop Time, Continued

Last time, we left our intrepid hero after he had finished drilling half of the shelf pin holes the corner cabinet needs . . . Things were going well, and I felt fine, so I just kept going.

There were some burn marks on the edges of the face frame stiles from when I ripped them to final width. These marks would be visible in the door openings, so I started sanding with 80 grit paper on a block to remove them. This hardly made a dent in the marks. And I didn't want to break out my random orbit sander (ROS), for fear of rounding over the corners or removing too much material in one spot.

So I grabbed my card scraper, which I have only used once before. I had sharpened it recently, so I figured I'd give it a go. The scraper really made short work of the burn marks and it was all gone in just a couple minutes of scraping. And the edges still appear to be square and straight.

Next, I grabbed the hardware for the adjustable leg levelers and selected the appropriate drill bits. I used a 1 1/8" Forstner bit to drill the counter bore needed for the t-nuts and a 1/2" drill bit for the through hole. I set up the Forstner bit in my drill press & drilled the counter bores. So far so good. After changing bits, I started to drill the first of the through holes.

I've been having some trouble with the chuck not staying on the taper. I've cleaned the taper & the inside of the chuck with alcohol and I used a block to wedge it on, hoping that this was all I'd need to do. Well, apparently my attempts to fix the problem weren't enough, or this hole was a bit too much, as the chuck came off again while I was drilling the first hole. I'm seriously considering upgrading this DP next year.

At any rate, I got the holes in the three legs started on the DP. I only was able to go about 1 1/2" deep or so through the 3" leg blocks before the chuck would come off. This was deep enough for me, since I could easily finish the hole with a hand drill.

I now glued the three leg blocks to the underside of the base cabinet bottom shelf. Actually, I just grabbed a shelf & said, "You're now the bottom shelf" and started laying everything out. I carefully layed out the position of each leg, then glued them one at a time & clamped them to the shelf. Then I left them alone for a couple of hours while the glue set up.

After the glue had dried long enough, I finished drilling the holes all the way through the bottom shelf with a corded hand drill. These holes will allow me to use a screw driver to adjust the leg levelers after the final assembly & the unit is sitting in its permanent home, since I really won't be able to get at the levelers from the bottom with the cabinet in a corner.

Once again I dry assembled the base cabinet on top of my table saw. Looking at everything, I decided it was time to cut the face frame rails to final length. So I grabbed the bottom rail & marked the length it needed to be. I did this by carefully laying the stock on top of the face frame and aligning the rail with the bottom ends of the stiles. I then marked the intersection of the rails with the stiles. Now I moved everything off of the table saw & cut the top & bottom rails to the same length.

I finally got to use my new Kreg pocket hole jig to drill the screw pockets in the face frame rails. These went well & I screwed the rails to the rest of the base cabinet face frame. This came out good and square. I then used the jig to drill pocket holes on the bottom of the bottom shelf and the top of the top shelf so I could attach the shelves to the face frame.

I dry fitted everything together again and drove in the pocket screws. This went well, except for one miscalculation I made. I had drilled screw holes that would draw the sides tight to the shelves. The shelves are 3/4" ply & I drilled all the holes in the shelves with the jig set to the 3/4" setting. All of the material I was joining is 3/4" thick. But the side panels have 1/4" deep rabbets & dados cut in them, into which the top & bottom shelves sit. So where these parts meet the shelves, there's only 1/2" of material to hold the screws.

Of course, I used the screws for joining 3/4" material to 3/4" material. These screws were fine everywhere except where I had the 1/2" of material remaining in the side panels. I got three of these screws driven all the way home before I realized my mistake. There is about 1/4" of each of these screws exposed. At this point, it was almost 9 PM so I gave it up for the night.

Last night, after returning home from work, I got back in the shop & replaced the screws that had gone through with 1" long screws. Then I cut the narrow back to length & shape -- it has two sides beveled at 45°. I sneaked up on all of the cuts to make sure the back is perfect.

Here's what the base cabinet looks like now. Everything except the boards that are joined by the birds mouths are not glued. They are either pocket screwed together or held together with clamps on the 3D squares. The narrow back is just sitting there, and everything is sitting on the leg levelers.

Nothing is glued-up yet. My next task will be to cut the back panels to the final width & length. Then I have to drill the shelf pin holes in the backs. Once all of that's done, I need to fine tune any loose fitting joints.

And that's just the base cabinet. I still have to cut a narrow back for the upper cabinet & repeat everything I've done for the base cabinet on the upper. When all of that work is done, I will sand everything, then glue up the base cabinet and then the upper cabinet. And there's more to be done after that: making & fitting the moldings, and cutting the adjustable shelves & the edge banding for same. And we haven't even gotten to the doors yet. There's lots left to do.

See you soon!

Some Unexpected Time in the Shop

Monday started like any normal Monday. From the time I got out of bed until about 10:30 AM, everything was completely normal. And then . . . not so normal. I'll spare everyone the morbid details, but I came down with a stomach bug of some sort. I left work at about 11:45 am and spent most of Monday dozing on one of our two couches. I was freezing cold & had a headache. To realize how unusual this is, I rarely get headaches, and only when I'm ill.

I felt better in the evening before I went to bed, but woke up at about 4:00 AM Tuesday and, well, we won't discuss it. So I called in sick on Tuesday & slept in a little later.

In the afternoon, I was feeling well enough to run out to the hardware store & pick up some Krazy Glue. I figured I'd take it easy & fix the splinter that was coming loose from the one side board that I screwed up while cutting the birds mouth on it, then fill in the kerf & finally glue up that joint.

Let me digress for a moment. This is the first time I've worked with white oak. I know from my reading on WoodNet that it's a pretty splintery wood. I know from first hand experience just how splintery red oak is, but I was hoping that white oak wasn't that bad. Well, it's not as splintery as red oak, but only slightly less so.

When you cut the birds mouth joint, you bevel cut at 45° along one corner This leaves you with a nice sharp corner. This corner, it turns out, is a prime place for splinters to form. And sure enough, while I was sanding the finished birds mouth with some 80 grit paper on a sanding block, the paper got caught on a splinter & the wood started to split down & into the field of the board. What stopped it is that the further in it goes, the thicker the wood gets.

I wanted to glue that splinter back on because the corner would have looked horrible if I didn't. I figured the best way to do that would be with a cyanoacrylate glue. My hardware store basically only had a couple of brands, but I noticed they had a package of Krazy Glue marked "Woodworking", so I decided to give it a shot.

Donning a pair of latex gloves, I gingerly moved the splinter so I could get the glue in the right place, then I put the splinter back where it needed to be & waited a few seconds. Suffice it to say, it eventually took & that was fixed. Sorry, no pictures.

Next, I mixed up some Bondo & spread it into the kerf, then waited for that to harden. Once again, I had at it with some 80 grit paper. No more splinters & while not perfect, I just wanted to reinforce the area. I figure gluing it to another piece of wood will provide more strength to the joint than filling the kerf would have.

Before I glued the boards together, I decided to drill the holes for the adjustable shelf pins in the sides. Two sets of pin holes will go into the hardwood sides that have the birds mouth cut in them, the other sets will go into the large backs (which I've yet to cut to finished size).

I bought a jig from WoodCraft for drilling the shelf pin holes. I set up my plunge router with a 3/8" guide bushing and a 1/4" up-spiral solid carbide bit. In the past, I've had the vibrations from cutting cause the guide bushings loosen up. I had read about a trick to keep this from happening, so I gave it a try: I wrapped the threads on the guide bushing with Teflon plumber's thread tape. The bushing is still mounted to the router & it hasn't come loose yet, even after drilling over 4 dozen holes.

Here's what the shelf pin holes look like in the one of the side boards. Next I glued the remaining side & face frame stile boards together using the same set-up I used on Sunday. This went well, as did the others.

That's enough for this post. I'll bring everybody fully up to date in my next post, probably tomorrow night.

Oh, and before I forget, I've reached a decision on the question of buying a jointer. I'm not buying one, now. When I do, I will probably follow the majority vote & get the Grizzly. For now, if I need to straighten any boards again, I'll just head on back to WoodCraft.

See you soon!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Quiet Sunday

Our church had some special guests & there was a reception afterwards, so we didn't get home until after 3. There really wasn't a lot of time left in the day to spend making saw dust, and my back was hurting a little, so I decided to take it easy today.

So I didn't cut the back panels to size today. Instead, I glued the face frame stiles for the three good sides I have to their respective sides. To do this, I had to cut some special clamping blocks, as seen in the photo on the right.

To do the clamp up, I hot glued the long side of the block to the 6" side. I had to leave about 3/4" hanging past the edge in order to get the clamps to work right. The glue's purpose was just to keep the block from moving while I tried to get the first clamp on.

Rather than try to describe how the clamps were set up, I'm just going to show you the one of the clamp set-ups. There were three across the length of the base cabinet boards and four across the length of the upper cabinet boards.

As you can see, one clamp helped secure the clamping block to the 6" wide side with the birds mouth joint in it. Then another clamp applied clamping force through the width of the face frame stile to keep it in the birds mouth.

Here's how the whole glue-up looked with the clamps on. I had to use the K-body in the middle because the jaws were deeper than those on the Tradesman clamps. And I used one of my leg glue-ups in the middle to clear the face frame stile. This worked very well.

I left each glue-up in the clamps for about an hour. Now, as far as removing glue squeeze out, I'm a wipe-it-down-with-a-wet-paper-towel kinda guy. But at around the 30 minute mark, I did go back & cleaned out any squeeze out I missed the first time.

Here's what the two base cabinet glue-ups looked like when they were done. I have to sand all of this one night this week. I had a 500 watt light on while I took this picture. I'm assuming the variations in color are because of the glue squeeze out, but I don't recall that much squeeze out on the inside.

I did get to dry fit the glued-up sides to the base cabinet top & bottom shelves. Everything fit together okay. As you can see in the picture, I used one of my 3D squares to verify the sides were square to the shelves. Well, they were square on one side, but not on the other. Everything was cut squarely, so I'm sure I'll get everything together square when I do the next dry fit.

Anyway, I have to get some cyanoacrylate glue on my way home from work tomorrow to repair a split on the remaining side, then mix up some Bondo & fill in that kerf. Maybe I'll get some time after work one night this week.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Saturday's All Right For Making Saw Dust

The remnants of hurricane Noel were passing off the coast today, making for a chilly and overcast day. So I went out into the shop and worked on the joinery for the cabinet. It turned out to be a good day, work wise, though I did scream at one point. No one was hurt, though I wanted to hurt something at one point.

The first order of business was to cut all the leg glue-ups to size. The blanks are 3" long & started out roughly 2.5" x 2.5". I won't tell you what procedure I used to rip them, because I really didn't do it in a very safe way. I thought about it later & realized that, given the size of each blank, I should have actually used my band saw to rip them. This would have been a lot safer. Luckily, I can still count to 10 without removing my shoes. But this isn't what made me scream.

The next operation was to cut the birds mouth joints on the 6" wide sides. The first step was to get a piece of scrap from the oak to use as a test piece. I ended up two offcuts. One was the actual test piece and the second was a piece only about 1/2" long. I used this piece to help lay out the birds mouth on the end of the test piece.

To lay it out, I used my combo square to draw a 45° line from one corner. Then I layed the 1/2" long piece against that line & drew another line that was square to the first & interesected the opposite face. Here's a picture of the test piece taken after the birds mouth was cut, but you can see the remaining layout lines on the end.

Next, I set the blade to 45°. I took my zero clearance insert (ZCI) out of the table saw's throat and inserted the original stock throat plate. I next noticed that the original plate wasn't flat; I don't remember bending it, but it clearly wasn't flat. I tried to make it flat but then I noticed a crack on one side. I guess this was defective from the factory, but since I don't use it often, I'm not going to worry about it.

Using a plastic drafting triangle, I set the saw's bevel angle to 45°. I then used a piece of scrap plywood & using the procedure in John White's Care and Repair of Shop Machines, I verified that the blade was actually at 45°.

Now I placed the rip fence on the left of the blade (my saw is a left tilt) and set it to 6" (the width of the boards I needed to cut) and set up a feather board. Finally, I was ready to make a test cut.

I only pushed the board in enough to nick the corner. I had no idea if the blade was going to cut in the right place or not, so I needed to see where the blade actually cut to make sure I had the rip fence right. Sure enough, I had to move the fence further away about 1/8" or so before the blade was cutting exactly where I wanted it.

Again, I didn't take a cut down the whole length of the board. I had to adjust the height of the blade until it cut to the exact depth I needed. A couple of adjustments and it was there, so I ran the whole length & verified the cut was OK down the whole length.

Next I ran the two boards for the base cabinet. I had to put the outside faces down to get the cut right. After these two were run, I ran the boards for the upper case. These cuts all went fine.

Now that these were done, I grabbed my test piece and turned it over. I had to adjust the fence, moving it in to get the blade to cut in the right place. I also had to lower the blade--I wanted to sneak up on the right height. Once all of the settings were on, I made a full cut to make sure the set up was good.

I ran the boards for the base cabinet. These ran fine and I got great birds mouths. I ran the first board for the upper cabinet. As I finished making the cut, I noticed that somehow, I had run the board with the wrong side down! This is when I started screaming. Unfortunately, my son was home & he heard me. He had no idea what was wrong -- I think I scared him.

So I turned off the saw, hung up my apron, and went inside to cool down. I was much too angry with myself right then to be anywhere near power tools. After watching a little TV, playing some Lego Star Wars I with my son, and eating a sandwhich for lunch, I figured out how I was going to recover from the mistake.

What I decided to do was to finish the remaining board, then reset the saw back for the first cut. Then I'd cut the screwed up board with the opposite face up. This would give me a birds mouth on the same edge, but oriented in the direction opposite of the intended direction. Essentially, the face I intended to show would become the inside face & vice-versa. The interior face was OK, except for one knot I wanted to hide, but it's going to show now. I'll have to fill it with epoxy or something when I finish.

After that, I set up the dado stack & cut all the rabbets. Each board I had just cut a birds mouth on needed a rabbet on the opposite and top edges of the inside face, and three edges of the top / bottom shelves needed rabbets, too. These went fine.

Next, the boards with the bird mouths & rabbets needed dados for the bottom shelves 3" up from the bottom edges. It took me a while to zero in on the correct dado width to make this cut. This was because I forgot that a 3/32" chipper was thicker than a 1/16" chipper. Once I had the right chipper installed, with the right size & number of shims, I got fantastic dados.

Here are the inside faces of the finished base cabinet sides showing all of the joinery cut into them. The bird mouth joints are on the outside and the rabbets are next to each other. The dados are at the bottoms and the short rabbets are at the top.

The sides for the upper cabinet are similar, just longer. All of the joinery is in essentially the same places.

And finally, here is a sample top / bottom shelf with the three rabbets cut in them. The three pieces for the back will fit into these rabbets and be glued & brad nailed through the sides into the shelves. The brad holes won't show because the backs will be against the walls. I'll have to be careful to angle the nailer so the nails don't blow out through the inside face of the plywood. And that was my day in the shop. It turned out to be a productive one with only one mistake. I still have an issue to deal with from that mistake -- the one birds mouth that I screwed up has a kerf in the middle of it. I believe I will mix up some Bondo & force it into the kerf. The bondo will be stronger than regular wood filler and will never show, since it will be hidden in the middle of a joint, and the ends will be either sitting on top of the base cabinet or covered by a top molding.

Tomorrow, if I get into the shop, I'll dry fit everything I've made so far & cut all of the back pieces to final length & width.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

WoodNet and Pod Casts

Progress on the cabinet is slow right now. I haven't had a chance to get into the shop & make any saw dust since Tuesday night. As the subtitle of this blog says, I'm basically a weekend warrior. And, being a father and husband, there are many weekends that I don't get to make any sawdust. So I thought I'd take a few minutes and talk about some of the things I do that are woodworking related when I can't actually make any sawdust.

I spend part of my spare time reading and replying to postings on WoodNet. Every now & then I even start a thread of my own. I don't read every single new posting on WoodNet -- the traffic is so high there that I wouldn't be able to do anything but read if I tried to read them all. But if I do see a title that interests me, I'll read it & chime in if I feel I have something to say.

I received an iPod Video for my birthday last year. As many of you know, this is a cool little gadget that lets you listen to your favorite music or watch videos pretty much whenever you want to, without having to carry around the original media. And you can buy & download music & video from Apple's iTunes store.

One of the other things that the iPod & iTunes let you do is subscribe to podcasts. These are audio and video files, published on the web, where someone shares their thoughts or information. Kind of like a cross between blogging and the radio or TV.

After I finished ripping the music off of almost every one of the CDs I own onto my hard drive and iPod, I started to subscribe to some woodworking podcasts. First I subscribed to "The Wood Whisperer", where Marc Spagnuolo does a very good job of explaining & demonstrating woodworking techniques. Then I started listening to Matt Vanderlist's "Matt's Basement Workshop" podcast. Matt's podcast is primarily an audio only podcast, but he occasionally puts together video episodes. He discusses various topics in wood working and has some interesting comments. This podcast is well worth listening to.

I have also begun watching the Woodsmith "Woodworking Online" video podcasts. These run for about an hour and have lots of great information and technique demonstrations. Each podcast is a taping of a seminar given by one of the editors of Woodsmith, ShopNotes, and Workbench magazines.

Some months ago, Marc & Matt teamed up & started a third podcast called "Wood Talk Online." This is a fun audio podcast where the guys talk about woodworking & answer listener emails & voice mails. They give good answers to the questions they receive (though I don't always agree with everything they say on certain controversial subjects) and they have a lot of fun while doing it.

Recently (like within the past couple of months), the Wood Talk Online site was turned into a collaborative blog. Marc & Matt still do their audio podcasts, but they have invited contributions from other folks to be published on the Wood Talk Online site. There are some very interesting articles published on the site & it is definitely worth a read.

Contributors to the articles on the Wood Talk Online web site include Tom Iovino, another Italian weekend wood worker originally from the North East but now transplanted, to Florida in his case. Tom has a quick & witty mind and has some interesting insights into woodworking. Also contributing on Wood Talk Online is Gail O'Rourke, who will soon be hosting her own PBS woodworking series. And you may even find other authors posted on Wood Talk Online soon!

In any event, the weather is gorgeous right now, but tomorrow is supposed to be a rainy day. Hurricane Noel is apparently traveling up the east coast & is supposed to be off the shore of New York state tomorrow. We could use the rain; I just hope the storm doesn't decide to hang a left & hit us any more directly.

Provided it's just rain & some blustery winds, I'll probably be in the shop cutting birds mouth joints! See you soon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Evening at WoodCraft

As I write this, I have just returned from spending an evening at the Norwalk, Connecticut WoodCraft, straightening out my lumber. I didn't bring my camera because I didn't want the other guys there using the machines to think I was weird or anything. But it was a cool evening and well worth the time.

This WoodCraft has a fully equipped shop upstairs. They have a 5 HP SawStop and a Unisaw (both table saws, in case you didn't know), a couple of 14" Delta band saws, a Jet band saw (not sure of the size, though I think it's 16"), a couple of drill presses, a Delta DJ-20 jointer, a thickness planer, a radial arm saw (RAS), chop saw, and a couple of router tables. To use their machines, you can either join their woodworker club, which gives you unlimited time in the shop for a certain period, or you can buy a card good for 5, 10 or 20 hours.

I bought a 10 hour card and a 12" Starrett combination square. I have two Stanley combo squares, an old one with a black handle & 12" ruler and a newer one with a 16" ruler & a yellow handle. The nut on the black handle had stripped out, so that one's been useless for several months. The yellow one, it turns out, is not square. So I figured it was time to get a sturdier square. And Starrett has a lifetime warranty on their combo squares: if the square ever goes out of square, you return it to Starrett & they will make it square again.

After a mini adventure getting my lumber & combo square upstairs without dropping anything, I met Frank, who is basically the Keeper of the Shop, at least on Tuesday nights. He is a cool guy & is a retired cabinet maker and he really surprised me when I was using the table saw later on. I'd actually met him a couple of times before when I'd taken some classes at this WoodCraft last winter. He was busy crosscutting some pretty wide (for me) poplar boards on the RAS, about 14" or so. I went over & told him what I needed & when he was finished with his boards he came over to help me.

As you know, I needed to joint the edges of my boards. So Frank gave me the safety run down on the tool & showed me how to edge joint the boards. He let me know in no uncertain terms that I wasn't to touch the cutter head and I wasn't to touch the outfeed table adjustments. I had no desire to touch either, believe me! I like being able to count to 10, and I like being with my family!

I got to do most of the jointing. The DJ-20 was sweet. The tables were more than long enough to support my longest boards, the pieces for the upper cabinet. This went fairly quickly and wasn't any harder than I thought it would be. I'm glad I had a pro like Frank there to help me get started using this tool.

Next, I used the SawStop to rip my boards to final width. The fence was a Biesemeyer clone, and it didn't feel any different from the Biesemeyer commercial fence on my Craftsman 22124. The markings on the tape were different, but no problem to use. I think the markings on the bottom of the tape were metric.

While I was ripping the first board, Frank was watching me carefully. I grabbed one of their plywood push shoes & put it on top of the fence at the start of my cut. I started feeding the stock through & finished with the push shoe. Then Frank said that the only thing he could see that I did wrong was watching the blade instead of the fence. I knew I had to do that, but for some stupid reason I was watching the blade. The fact it had no guard on it is probably what riveted my attention to it. I finished my rips using the proper technique & Frank was satisfied.

That SawStop was sweet! It came up to speed instantly & was very beefy. My 22124 weighs in at about 380 lbs, but this was even more substantial. The blade on it left no tear out whatsoever on my boards, though I did get a little burning on one or two boards. And no, I didn't test the blade brake -- I didn't have any hot dogs with me!

After that, I came home. I had accomplished everything I wanted for the evening and I want to use some of the remaining time to turn some pens with my daughter one weekend. Plus, I used to work in Norwalk & it's a 1 hour drive home, even though it took only 40 minutes to get there from my office.

I did take some pictures of the boards after I got home. Here's one of the "sides" for the lower cabinet & the face frame board that will be glued to it at a 135° angle.

And here is one of the upper cabinet's sides & face frame pieces. Remember, these were both cut from the same board.

The other boards look pretty much the same. I'm very happy with the way these came out.

These boards are all cut to final width & length now. The next step is to cut the joinery to form the 135° angle between these boards. As I posted earlier, I'll be using the bird's mouth joint for this. So I'll be practicing it on some poplar scrap the next time I get in the shop.

See you next time!

Thank God for WoodNet!

I was just over on WoodNet, reading a posting called How to clamp 135-degree joint? Near the end of the thread, there's a posting by ezflier with a link to a web page by WoodNet's own Edwin Hackleman. Edwin is a very intelligent guy who seems to delight in geometric puzzles and how to make them with the simplest possible set ups.

The page in question describes the Bird's Mouth Joint. This is a joint specifically designed to simplify cutting & putting together 8 boards to form an octagon. While I'm not building an octagon, the angle at which the face frame meets the "sides" of the corner cabinet is exactly the same. This joint looks like it will be easier to cut. Let me explain why.

Originally, I was planning to cut 67.5° miters on the edges of the side boards & the face frame stiles. I don't know about you, but I don't have any precise 22.5° or 67.5° reference angles lying around, and I don't know where you'd find any. So there would be a lot of trial and error cutting of scrap to get the saw blade beveled to the right angle.

You then have to glue these boards to each other. I had come up with a clamping caul and had posted a picture of it in that thread. As Ms. Nomer says in the thread, there might be a problem with this configuration not providing enough clamping pressure to keep the mitered edges up against each other.

The bird's mouth joint, on the other hand, looks pretty easy to glue-up. The angled board essentially sits in a socket & is self-aligning. All you have to do is clamp a beveled block to the angled piece, then run a clamp horizontally. And you're done!

So I'm gonna give this a shot using some poplar scraps I have lying around at home tomorrow night. Tonight, I'm going to WoodCraft after work & use their jointer. And maybe a table saw to make sure I have all the edges straight & parallel. Or maybe I'll do the ripping another night at home. Let's see how busy the place is.

Monday, October 29, 2007

To Buy a Jointer, or Not to Buy a Jointer; That Is the Question!

Well, I got home today & found the latest Craftsman Club flyer had arrived. They're having their Craftsman Club days Nov 4 - 10. Normally, this doesn't interest me too much, but they're offering their Orion built 6 1/8" jointer for a member price of $386.99. If you read my last posting, you know that I really need a jointer before I can make any headway on this project.

What's a guy to do?

On the one hand, we just shelled out big bucks to vinyl side the house. We also brought back the contractor who replaced our deck last year to repair this shed roof that overhangs the front entrance & garage door. It seems the columns that were holding the roof up were sitting on the ground, not a footer, and had 2 1/2" of material just rot away over time. He jacked up the roof back to where it was supposed to be, dug & poured new footers, and replaced the columns. We just have to paint it.

On the other hand, I do have a woodworking fund. That's where all the money for this cabinet is coming from, as soon as the charge bills arrive. What's another $400 from that fund for a jointer?

Then there's the used market. I should be able to find a decent used 6" jointer if I started looking. Oh, decision, decisions . . .

So I'm adding a poll to the home page. Let me know what you think I should do. I'll let it run a week & will publish the results this weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cutting White Oak and Wishing I Had a Jointer

I did manage to get into the shop after church Sunday. I started ripping all of the parts for the face frame and the sides from the white oak. I have two boards that are wide enough to get the sides and the adjacent face frame stiles for the upper case. The boards are wider than I needed, so I decided to rip the parts wider than I needed them to be. Then I could rip the beveled miters I need on the sides that were ripped apart.

I had spent an hour before I started this project making sure the saw was aligned properly. What I didn't do was check the alignment of the splitter to the blade. This would come to bite me, as you'll see.

I took one of these boards & set the fence where I needed it & ripped. Then I put the two pieces back together again, and this is what I saw.

I had put the lines across the joint so I could identify the edges that needed to be adjacent to each other, and so I could get them aligned when I cut them to final length. (I should have cut them to final length first. Not the first time I've made this mistake). The other board came out with the same space in it.

I realized that I have to figure out two things:

  1. How did that space get in there in the first place?
  2. How to get that space out of there.

The only way to get rid of the space is to joint the boards. The problem is that I don't own a jointer. Well, I do own a #7 hand plane, which is called a jointer, but my skill with the tool is non-existant. And I'm not going to buy a powered jointer right now. There's too much else going on & we just spent a lot of money to fix up the house.

So, to get rid of the space, I'm going to load the boards up into my car tomorrow night, and instead of driving straight home from work, I'm going to drive up to Norwalk, Connecticut & visit the Woodcraft closest to my home. I'll rent some time in their shop & use their DJ-20 to get joint the boards.

Now, I had to figure out how the space got in the boards. The first thing I did was re-check the alignment of the fence to the miter slot & the blade. I did adjust the fence a little bit, but I really didn't think this was the problem. Watching the edge of a board as it rode against the fence while ripping showed me that the board was pulling away from the fence at the end. I was careful to set the fence parallel to the blade & the miter slot, and my measurements showed it was parallel.

That's when I thought to check the splitter's alignment. Sure enough, it was off. I adjusted the splitter, but by now I had no rips left to make. I did rip a piece of poplar later to make the blanks for the legs, and that looked like it rode better against the fence.

Next job was to cross cut parts to length. I used my Osborne EB-3 to make these cuts. I cut the sides & stiles to final length, leaving them wider than I need. I had ripped the face frame rails to final width, but I cross cut them longer than I needed. These parts will get cut to their final dimensions later.

Here's what all of the face frame & side stock looks like after an afternoon spent cutting & cussing.

The last thing I did today was actually cut all of the blanks for the legs & glue them up. Here's what they looked like in the clamp & waxed paper. These will get ripped to final size after the glue has dried, then drilled to accept the leg leveler t-nuts.

I should have put cauls on these blanks because one or two of them slipped while I was eating dinner & the glue was setting up.

See you next time!

Long Island Woodworker's Show

It was raining Saturday moring when I got out of bed, so I decided to go to the Long Island Woodworkers Club show. Let me get the really bad news out of the way & tell you up front I forgot to bring my camera. Sorry, I didn't get any pictures.

Mind you, I didn't make this decision lightly. It's about a 2 hour drive to get there in decent traffic. I live at the extreme northern end of Westchester county. In fact, crossing the town line north of here brings you into the next county. I have to drive all the way through the county, cross into the Bronx, and drive through there to one of the bridges to Queens. Then I have to drive out from Queens through Nassau county and into Suffolk county.

The good thing is it was a Saturday morning, so traffic was likely to be lighter than on a weekday. The bad thing is it was raining, meaning that traffic probably wasn't going to move as fast as it normally would on a Saturday morning. Long Island is a nice place to visit, but I hate driving there. It ended up taking about 2 hours each way.

I had gone to the show two years ago when it was in the basketball arena at Hofstra University, and it was a good show with lots of vendor booths & demonstrations. As I recall, the show was in April that time. There were a couple of guys outside the venue with a portable bandsaw mill. They were turning a log into planks. There was even a booth inside that had a CNC router they were selling. Very cool stuff, and I even got to sit in on a couple of seminars.

This year, the show is in October and it was at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge in Greenlawn. I had never been to Greenlawn before and it seemed like a very nice town. The show was a lot smaller than the previous show I had been to. There were only about 5 vendors there, and no CNC routers to be found. There was a group of guys from the LI Scroll Sawyers Club demonstrating scrolling.

And there were a lot of incredible projects on display. There was a fantastic tool chest that was made of curly maple and other colorful woods. It was full of hand tools & reminded me of the antique tool box that Norm showed on the episode of the New Yankee Workshop where he makes a hanging tool box.

There were some incredible examples of the scroll sawyer's art on display, including a scroll sawn version of the famous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where God reaches down from heaven to touch the hand of man. And there were scroll sawn portraits of the presidents on display, too.

Frankly, I felt the venue was too small. The place was too crowded, given the fragile nature of some of the exhibits. It would have been better if they could have put the projects on display in a space separate from the vendors. I never did find any of the seminars.

I only stayed an hour, but I did get a Kreg K3 Master System pocket hole jig kit while I was there. The show price was 10% off and I got a free box of screws with it. I played with the jig when I got home and cut a piece off of a scrap of ply and attached it to the rest using the jig. It works!

I hope to get into the shop tomorrow afternoon after church and cut some wood.