Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some Assembly Is Required, Part 2

I had started writing part 1 of this 2 part report a few weeks ago. And then October got busy with things besides the pulpit. We had a revivalist, Dr. Gabriel Heymans and his wife Anita, visit our church. They ended up staying for two weeks, and I spent almost every night at church. I spent every night of the next week working on the center box, trying to make ground on it. I finally got a chance to finish part 1 over the weekend, and now I'm bringing it up to date.

In part 1, I recounted putting the two side boxes together and the issues I found with mis-cut panels for the center box. Now it's time to address the issue.

As I said in part 1, I decided to remake the rails for the center box in order to recover from my mistake. But first, I had to cut off the bottom rail I had glued into one side.

I didn't want to risk damaging the post, so I pulled out my Shark flush cut saw (the only hand saw that I have that I really trust myself with for this kind of work) and cut the rail off about 1/8" - 1/4" from the post. Next, I used a chisel to pop off the shoulders of the tenon that were left on the post. Since the joint there is end grain to long grain, they popped right off.

I set up my plunge router with the same 3/8" straight bit I used to cut the groove & mortise. I set it up for a maximum plunge of 1/2", as I did when I first cut the grooves. Next, I attached my edge guide & set it close to where I needed it. To fine tune the position, I placed the router in position & turned on the router. I lowered the bit down so it just kissed the surface. I then carefully adjusted the edge guide so the bit was cutting the wood I needed to remove and only that wood.

When I was satisfied, I made the two passes, the first at 1/4" and the second at 1/2", to re-establish the full length of the groove. This went perfectly well.

I then reset the maximum plunge of the router to 1 1/16". Everything else was left unchanged. I then remove the tenon material left in the mortise. This went well too. In fact, I found some stretchy glue residue left over in the mortise that I was able to remove with a chisel. I just had a little clean up to do with a 3/8" chisel & I was done.

I went out to Condon's & picked up a board that I intended to use to remake the rails. I wanted to get a 5/4 D2S board, but some how I miss measured at the yard & got a 13/16" D2S board instead. I did have some boards left from the original order that I was going to use to make the lectern, but I decided I could use them for the rails instead & use the D2S board for the lectern.

Incidentally, everything described from here on happened in the evenings after work the week of October 18.

So I milled those boards. Somehow, my Wixey digital planer height read out got about 1/16" off. And, of course, it was reading 1/16" higher than it really was. So the boards I milled ended up being 13/16" thick instead of 7/8". The trouble is starting already! I decided to mill the 3/8" groove off center & keep the narrow part on the inside.

I ripped the parts to width & cut them to length. I milled the groove by mounting my 3/8" straight cutter in my table mounted router & setting up the fence & some feather boards. This went OK and the grooves were done. Then I carefully cut the tenons. And I did the first dry fit -- a real dry fit. I didn't glue anything together before the dry fit.

The middle rails were fine, but the top & bottom rails were still too short! I forgot to account for the extra 1" of tenon on these parts when I calculated how long to cut the parts. Doh!! At that point, I knocked off for that day.

I went back to Condon's, and this time, I got a 10' long board that was a true 5/4 thick and about 4" wide. Actually, it's width tapered from about 3 1/2" or so to about 4 1/2". I had them cut it in half so I could get it in my Accord to take home. If I didn't screw up anything more, I would be able to get all the wood I needed from half the board, so this was to my advantage, anyway.

I cut the new board into pieces of rough length. I face & edge jointed, then watched the thickness carefully in between passes. I used one of the original rails to gauge the thickness as I milled & I stopped when they were about the same. I used my fingers to make that determination, not a ruler. The new parts are as close to being the same thickness as I can feel.

When I was happy, I ripped everything to the proper widths, but I still didn't cross cut anything. Next, I set up my aux fence on the table saw & mounted my dado set, at 3/8", to the saw. I set the fence 1/4" from the blade & mounted a feather board on the fence to push the stock down to the table. And I ran the parts. They came out great.

Next, I cut the parts to length. I took the length of the original top rail & added 1 1/4" to it. That's the length I cut the top & bottom rail stock to. Then I made the tenons on the end. They came out well, too.

Dry fit time. This time, everything came out the right length! Big sigh of relief!

Next, I made new front stretcher / shelf supports from ply. I ironed on some edge banding to hide the ply edge grain on the inside. And it's time to make new shelves. I cut the 4' x 4' half sheet of ply I had left over from remaking the other shelves into four blanks. No problems here.

I used some left over pieces from the failed second set of rails to make the edging for the new shelves. I planed them down to 3/4" thick and then ripped them to the right widths & cross cut them long. The space between the posts would be 20 1/4", so I needed them to be at least 21" long, if not 22".

I glued the edging on. I left them in the living room over night to dry on Friday night. It's gotten cold here in Westchester, and I don't think I can leave stuff in the unheated garage to dry and get a good bond. I've had enough go wrong so far that I don't need the edging to fall off if someone leans on a shelf.

On Saturday, I cut the notches in the new shelves. This time, I made a few changes to my technique. First, I put my stock fence with the tall aux fence still attached to it & put it in the right miter slot & made a pass. This established a width for ripping that piece of ply so I wouldn't have to remove the fence from the miter slot if I needed to swap miter slots. I then ripped the fence to that width & put it back on the miter gauge.

Second, instead of nibbling away the material, I set the blade height for one side and made one pass to establish one shoulder at that particular blade height for every cut that required it. Then I set the blade height for another side & made all of those cuts. I repeated this until I had all of the notches made. This time, they went a lot faster & came out real nice.

I finished up drilling the pocket holes I needed to attach the top rails to the boxes later. I had to drill these before assembling the box because I wouldn't be able to fit the drill & bit inside after assembly -- the top shelf isn't deep enough for the bit & drill to fit. Holes were drilled on the inside of the front rail, along the outside of the ply partitions where they will touch and will never be seen when the three boxes are assembled to each other.

Time for one more dry fit. Everything looked good. And I glued it up. And I finally got all three boxes assembled!

Here's a picture of the center box with the clamps still attached after I glued it up.

And here's the top shelf. The wood is still wet in the corners where I wiped off some glue squeeze out with a wet rag.

And finally, here are the three boxes, bolted to each other for the first time after the glue dried.

We're just about up to date. I did a little bit of work this week after work, but I'll leave that for next time.

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