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!