Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crown Molding Woes

I've read lots of posts on WoodNet about mitering crown molding, but I had no idea how difficult the stuff could really be until I tried it myself. Between special events at my church and trying to get this stuff right, it's taken me several weeks to get where I am right now. And I'm not done with this stuff yet.

After routing the moldings, there was a fair amount of rippling on the surface that needed to be sanded out. So I got out my 80 grit paper & went to town. Due to the shape, I just used my fingers to back the sandpaper. This took a couple of nights of work to smooth. I didn't work on it continuously, mind you. It was too cold in the garage to work on it continuously.

After getting two pieces of molding that I felt I could use & sanding them smooth, I took one piece & cut a 22.5° miter on one end. I then took the larger piece of molding over to the base cabinet and marked where I thought I needed to cut the miter for the other end.

And I got it wrong. The piece ended up being too short.

The picture above illustrates what I think happened. I marked the place to cut the molding on the front face, where the cove ended, instead of on the back of the piece. And when I cut it, I lined my mark up with the kerf in my zero clearance insert, forgetting that the back of the cut would be further inboard because of the miter angle. So the piece ended up too short.

Now I had a problem. I need to attach two of these moldings to the cabinet, one at the top of the base cabinet & one at the top of the upper cabinet. I didn't have enough material to make another piece from the molding I'd already made, and I didn't have any material from which to make another molding. What to do?

Remember I said I munged up another piece of molding in my last update? Well, the picture above shows how badly that was munged up. I figured I had to salvage this piece, which was almost exactly 5' long.

So I chucked the bit back up and set everything up. I carefully set the fence's position so it would only remove a very small amount of material from the thinnest portion of the molding. And I set a piece of plywood (actually the template for the arch on the base molding) in place of a feather board to hold the stock against the fence. I used my CMT feather board to keep the stock flat on the table.

When I pushed the stock through, I tried to keep it against not the fence but against the "feather board". This worked great and I was able to salvage the piece. The picture below shows the two good pieces of molding I ended up with when all was said & done.

Now that I had two good pieces of the molding, each about 5' long, you'd think I would cut the second piece properly. Well, some how, I screwed it up again & cut the next piece even shorter!

Frustration sets in. Hang up the apron, shut off the light, and go cool off.

The good news is the third and fourth times were the charm. I got both pieces for the base & upper cabinets from the remaining 5' long piece & they were both cut too long! I could now sneak up to the right length.

That's all for now. See you soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a week!

This past week has been extremely busy for me. I didn't get much time to work on my project, though. I spent the week going to work, leaving there & coming home, having dinner, and then traveling to my church to listen to a special speaker. He was at the church from Sunday through Friday.

I have done some work on the cabinet about which I have to update everyone, but I haven't had a chance to do any writing since the week before this. I will get some thing written up this week & post it as soon as I can, I promise.

In the meantime, please bear with me and I will get something written up soon.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making Crown Molding

I've been working on the cove / crown molding for the past two weekends now. I've had some ups and downs with this molding. I was able to make two good pieces, out of three attempts. The third didn't turn out too good. And then I had problems when I went to miter the finished molding. But that's getting ahead of where I'm going.

I started out by mounting the crown molding bit I bought into my Bosch 1617EVS router, which was still in the router table after making the ogee molding previously. I then set the height of the bit, as you can see in the photo above. The workpiece is actually cut wider than the bit is tall. I did this so that there would still be some uncut material left that could ride on the fence & keep the board from sniping.

When I was done setting the bit's height, I then put my new fence onto the table & found the hole I'd cut in it on the band saw was too short for the bit. So I enlarged it, as you can see in the photo above. Initially, I just turned on the router & pulled the fence through the bit from back to front. At first, it seemed that the bit was binding on the fence. There was a lot of vibration & noise evident as the bit spun. So I enlarged the hole. But this didn't have any effect on the vibration. In fact, at one point, I thought that the bearings in the router were shot.

Well, it turns out that the vibration was caused by the combination of the runout in the router itself, the mass of the bit, and the speed at which it was spinning. At just the right speed, the router hit a resonant frequency and the wobble in the bit was maximized. The vibration was so intense that the clamps holding the fence in place actually loosened.

And this is what caused the first board I was running through the bit to get screwed up. The fence was moving away from the bit as I pushed the stock against it, causing the cut to get deeper & deeper. Lots of chip out occurred.

I ended up reducing the speed & the vibration was greatly reduced, though not completely eliminated. I was able to get the other 5' board I had finished without any mishaps. But the vibration did leave a rippled surface on the molding that had to be sanded smooth.

Carefully looking over the first board, I decided it wouldn't be useful. So the next weekend (this past weekend), I made a third piece. The photo above shows the third molding after the first pass. The photo below shows the same board after the first pass from the end, so you can see how much of the profile has been cut.

The photo below shows the end of the finished molding. The pencil lines show the material that has to be removed from the molding to form the final profile.

Finally, the photo below shows the surface of the molding after the final pass. You can clearly see the ripples I mentioned earlier.

That's enough for now. We'll pick this up next time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Quick Update and The Wood Whisperer Network

I thought it was time to give everyone an update. I have been busy working on the cove moldings I need for the cabinet, but I haven't had a lot of time to spend working on them. I've got the profile cut in them, but I have a lot of sanding to do before I can miter them & glue them onto the carcases.

A more detailed post will be forthcoming soon. I'll be working on the next post over the next few evenings. I just wanted to make sure everyone knew I wasn't abandoning this blog.

You may have noticed that there's an icon on the right for the Wood Whisperer Network. If you click on it, you'll be taken to a web site with a list of other blogs that have joined the Network. These are all run by fellow wood workers who wish to share their experiences. And they're great places to learn more about woodworking.

Yes, I've had this icon on the page for a few weeks; I just realized today that I placed it on the page without mentioning it. Marc (The Wood Whisperer) is a good guy & I wanted to recognize what he's doing in a post.

Take care and I'll be back with more, soon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

And Then I Cut It 1/8" Too Short

Thanks for coming back! We're ready to pick up the story of the corner cabinet with the events that occurred on New Year's Eve. It was a productive day, even though I didn't get everything done that I had planned to do. Still, I got enough done.

I spent the afternoon on New Year's Eve making the "ogee" molding for the corner cabinet. The image on the left is a drawing of the exact profile generated by SketchUp. As you can see, it's not really an ogee, I just don't know what to call it, and it's like an ogee, so for now, it's an ogee.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen this exact profile in any router bit catalog. In this thread on WoodNet, I asked the membership what they thought would be the best way to make this profile. Taking all of the advice together, I figured that I'd need exactly 3 router bits to make the profile: a rabbeting bit, a 1/4" radius round over bit, and a 1/4" radius cove bit. I figured I'd use the rabbeting bit to remove most of the waste & save the wear & tear on the other two bits.

Before I could get started routing the profile, though, I had to make a new router table fence. I have been using an old scrap of red oak plywood as a fence for a couple of years now. It was only 3/4" thick and about 1" wide, so it wouldn't work for this profile.

The picture at the right shows the fence I made. It's a piece of white oak plywood scrap with a 3 1/2" radius semi-circular hole cut out of it on one edge. I took two of the triangular cut-offs from the top & bottom shelves & cut them off at the same height as the fence face. These pieces both had the factory corners on them, and I verified that they were indeed square. But cutting them down & using the factory corners, I knew that the fence would end up being square to the table top.

The table is also set up for cutting the first of the rabbets.

After making the fence, I selected a piece of white oak that I had milled up the previous Friday and the poplar test piece. I ripped both of them to the same width, which enabled me to use the same exact set up for a cut on the oak workpiece after testing it on the poplar piece without having to make any adjustments.

The free version of SketchUp doesn't print images to scale, so a couple of weeks ago I took a piece of paper & drew the profile out by hand to full scale. I cut this drawing out & adhered it to the end of the poplar test piece with spray adhesive. This allowed me to gauge when a cut was set up properly.

I started by cutting two rabbets in my blank with the rabbeting bit. The picture at the right shows how the poplar board looked after I cut both of the rabbets. You'll note that I actually left more material on the board than I'd intended to. The bearings on the rabbeting bit didn't let me remove any more material, and even though I had the new fence, I didn't want to remove the bearings. I figured this was close enough.

Next, I pulled out the 1/4" radius cove bit I had bought for this purpose. I even removed the bearing on this bit to see if I could get it all the way in to the corner where the cove had to be. It was no go -- the stub that the bearing sits on wouldn't let me move the bit any closer to the proper place.

So I ran out to the ToolNut -- a local tool store, that also sells through the Internet, and bought a cove bit . The bit I bought has a 1 1/4" cutter diameter, but a 1/4" radius. I as able to get this bit right in the corner I needed it to be in.

I then used the core box bit to cut the cove. What I did was first set the bit height by lining up the end of the poplar stick & raising the big until it lined up with the arc. Then I moved the fence in place & adjusted its position until it looked like everything was lining up right. Then I clamped on the feather boards & made a partial pass. I then made some adjustments to the fence position (the height was right).

It took a couple of tries to get the bit just right. Due to the bit's diameter, I also had to reduce the router's speed. I have no idea how fast it was actually going, but I reduced the speed by one setting on the dial. I didn't get any burning & the cut was nice & smooth. The photo at above right shows the poplar board after I had finished cutting out the cove. Of course, I also ran the oak board through after finishing this cut.

Next I chucked up a 1/4" radius round over bit, with the bearing removed, to finish off the piece. It took a few tries, but I was able to get the bit's height & the fence's position set up perfectly. The photo at the left shows how the poplar test board looked after this cut was finished.

To finish the profile, I needed to change the set up & stand the board up on edge. The stub that the bearing mounts to just hit the cove when I tried setting it up while lying flat.

It took a lot of trial & error to get this set up right. The problem was I kept adjusting the fence when I should have been adjusting the bit height. Adjusting the fence had no effect at all on the cut, but I was moving it in such small increments, I didn't realize at first that the adjustments weren't working.

Eventually, I got it right. The photo at the right shows the oak work piece after I finished routing it.

The next step was to rip the profile off of this board. The poplar board came in handy again for this. I lined up the blade with the line I had drawn & glued on to on the poplar piece & set the fence. I left the profile on the cut-off side of the blade for this rip.

I had started with a piece of oak stock that was 5' long, which is about 18" longer than I need. Unfortunately, there was about 8" or so of splits & checks on one end the board and a bit of snipe on one end of the stock from a mistake I made while milling up the lumber. I wasn't worried because of all of the extra material. So I cut the bad ends off & prepared to miter.

Depending on the kind of glue you're using, the air and the wood needs to be above a minimum temperature in order to get a good glue bond. Since I planned to glue all of the pieces I had made so far, I had placed the base cabinet into the family room at the start of the day to warm up the wood. The photo at the left shows the base cabinet, lying on the cradle I made for it, in my family room with the mitered but not yet glued on base boards and the newly made ogee molding.

At this point, I proceeded to glue the base boards onto the base cabinet. I just used glue & clamps, no brads. I then waited for the glue to dry for an hour or two before doing anything more to the cabinet.

When the time was right, I roughly centered the molding on the base cabinet & marked where it met the corners. I then mitered the two ends, being careful to end up with a right end & a left end. I'm happy to report I got this part right. And the piece ended up being the right length, too.

I had to take the off-cut from the right end & cut a miter to match the other one in it. Since the molding didn't come out perfectly symmetrical, I couldn't just put the offcut from the right side on the left & vice versa, nor could I flip it round. I did manage to get the miter cut correctly.

Next I had to cut the piece for the right side to length. I put it on the cabinet in its place & got everything lined up right. I marked it's length. I brought it to the table saw. I had the miter gauge set up for a miter cut, but I needed to set it for a square cut, so I set my Osbourne EB3 back to 0°. Then I noticed that the miter gauge's aluminum fence needed to be moved, or I'd cut into it. So I put down the work piece & moved the fence.

Now I picked up the work piece, lined up my mark with the blade, and cut it to length. It was right on the line, perfect. And then I noticed that the mitered end of the work piece was lying on the table, and not in my hand next to the miter gauge fence.

My heart sank. I picked up the mitered piece & brought it to the cabinet. And sure enough, it was 1/8" too short! At this point, I called it quits for the night.

The next day, New Year's Day, I determined that I didn't have enough extra material left to remake the piece. I had enough to make the left piece. I'd have two off cuts that were both more than 5" long, but neither long enough to make another piece. So I figured that I'd just cut the left piece 1/8" too short & make it a design feature. And that's what I did.

After that, all I had left to do is to glue the ogee moldings in place. Again, I used no brads, just clamps. The photo at the right shows the base cabinet after the glue had dried & I removed the clamps.

Before anybody says anything, yes, that's glue residue in the inside upper corner under the top. Apparently I didn't get all of it off when I put the cabinet together. Because of where it is, you'll never see it unless you actually put your head into the cabinet, but I'm going to have to make an attempt to clean it up before I finish the piece.

My next task is to make the cove / crown moldings. I'm going to have to make a taller feather board of some kind to keep the workpiece firmly against the fence, since this bit is over 2" tall.

See you next time!

Christmas Update

It's been a nice 11 days off from work for the Holidays. I promised everyone some updates, so here's the first.

Christmas was very nice. We spent Christmas Eve with my sister & brother-in-law. This was only the second Christmas since my mother passed away, so I'm sure she would have been happy to see us keeping up the old traditions. Christmas Day was spent with my wife's family. She's the middle child of 5, 4 girls & one boy. My brother-in-law lives in Saratoga Springs, so we didn't see him & his family, but the rest of us had a good time at my sister-in-law's house.

As far as presents, I had received a holiday catalog from Lee Valley a few weeks before Christmas. While perusing the catalog, I made a list of various inexpensive items that I wanted, and I made the list's existence known to my wife.

I figured that Mary would order one or two of them & stick them in my stocking, or something. To my surprise, she ended up ordering everything on the list! Here's what I got:

The saddle square has already come in handy in my woodworking, as have the sanding grips. More on those in upcoming posts. I had thought the pull shave was a scraper and didn't realize what it was until I had it in my hands. It's very well made & the wood handles are impressive. I'll find a use for it, I'm sure.

I know that the bevel setter will be useful the next time I need to set the table saw bevel or the band saw table to some angle & I want to make absolutely sure the angle is correct. While I have the Wixey angle gauge, I just don't trust it to be absolutely perfect.

I have already finished reading the Workbench book, and I've learned a lot that I'm looking forward to use one day. I hope to build a new shop, either as a new garage addition to the house or as a separate building in the back yard. Once I've done that, I'll probably build the Roubo bench.

In any event, my next post will be an update on the project.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I have been able to make a bit of progress on the cabinet over the past 11 days. Not as much as I would have liked to have made, but some. The Holidays were just too busy. Out of 11 days off, I only got to spend a couple of hours on the Friday after Christmas, most of New Year's Eve, and a few hours on New Year's Day in the shop.

I am in the process of writing & organizing posts about what I've accomplished. These will be posted in the next few days. In the interim, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!