Sunday, January 18, 2015

Whiskey Cabinet Construction

All of the lumber for the case and door frame is from one board.  That board was part of a batch of lumber I bought last summer from a guy who was retiring. The board was about 11" wide and had been thicknesses to 3/4". It has a bit of a cup to it so I decided it would work well for this cabinet as i didn't want the case to be a full 3/4" thick.  

I was able to get all the case parts and the shelf from that one piece.  The rails and stiles for the door were from the offcuts of the corresponding case pieces. This let me utilize nearly the entire board and ensured a good grain and color match for the door.

After processing the stock for the case, I laid out and cut the dovetails for the corners. Because the top and bottom overhung the sides I decided to go with half tails on the ends.  For transferring the tail to the pin board I tried out Chris Schwarz's "Dovetail Ruler Trick".  Tacking a wooden ruler on would be even better, but clamping a metal ruler certainly helped.

With the case complete, I cut dados in the sides for the shelf.  I ended up cutting them by hand for the practice and because I didn't feel like taking the route out of the table.  This operation was certainly one of those times where trying to use the router may have taken longer by the time I got it set up. The groove for the back panel was cut at the router table as I hadn't received this yet.

Having spent some time trying to get an old Stanley #55 to work well, this tool is a welcome change. 

Next up was to finish the door panel.  I had decided to finish this project with General Finished EnduroVar and it went on really nicely.  This finish has all the good characteristics of a water borne finish, easy clean up, dries fast, and doesn't smell terrible while also having the nice warm color of a oil varnish. I found that cheap foam brushes were the best way to apply this, though I suspect it will spray nicely when the weather is warm enough to finish outside.

I lightly sanded between coats with 220 to smooth things out, and then finished the final coat with 3M scotchbrite pads.  I found that they stick pretty well onto the ROS which makes bringing the entire panel up to an even sheen a piece of cake.

The door frame was pretty straightforward, grooves on the router table for the panel and dominos for the joints. Old Brown Glue to stick it all together.

To protect the panel I covered it with painters tape.  Then it was time to sand the frame smooth and move onto hardware installation.

As I was using knife hinges, I had to to cut the mortises for them before I glued up the case.  When it came time to glue up the case I installed the door to make sure everything lined up. 

And the final product, installed and serving admirably. It is hung with a French cleat.  I offset the back panel 3/8" in to allow for the thicker french cleat.  The fixed portion of the cleat is glued directly onto the plywood back and the top. The wall mounted cleat was attached to the wall with 3 Wall dog screws, one of which is into a stud so it should hold up to a full load of the good stuff.

I've got better pictures of the finished piece here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christmas Knives.

This was the first year I had things together enough to get some things done in the shop for christmas presents.  Last post I showed the pictures from the whiskey cabinet, the other christmas gifts that came out of the shop were a couple knife and cutting board sets.

I got the knife blades from Woodcraft.  They came as a kit with rivets that were indicated as optional.  Bubinga was used for the knife scales and was epoxied onto the tang.  I used 5min epoxy which I turned out to not be the best choice.  A slower setting epoxy would be better.  

The cutting boards as simple, curly maple with a Bubinga strip down the center.

And here is a picture of one in use.  Overall the knife kits were made for great gifts.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Whiskey Cabinet

This year for Christmas I built a small whiskey cabinet for my father-in-law. The case and door frame are from a single board that I picked up last summer.  It had been milled to 3/4" and was a bit cupped so it wouldn't work for the side tables which need 3/4"+ parts.  I was able to get all the parts for the cabinet straight and still end up with a heavy 1/2" which I think looks nice on a cabinet this size.

The door panel is book matched walnut from a another board I had stashed away. 

I am really pleased with how the door came out.

The case is dovetailed with the top and bottom protruding out past the case edges.

 I finished the cabinet with General finished Enduro Var.  This was the first time I have used this and I was quite pleased with it.  It is a water borne varnish with a bit of color to it.  It certainly looks much better than other water borne finishes I've used while still drying quickly and not being unpleasant to work with. I may try spraying it on the next project I complete.

The door is mounted with knife hinges from Brusso. They were a real pleasure to work with.

I used a small brass pull, also from Brusso, which I think goes well with cherry.

A small brass catch is mounted behind the pull to keep the door shut.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prototyping as part of the Design process

One of the projects that has been creeping closer to the top of my list is a pair of side tables to go with the TV stand that I finished earlier this year. I've been working on the design off and on all year.

This is as far as I had gotten before moving onto other projects. Going back to it this fall I decided that this project might be a good use  for the wide walnut board i bought on a whim this spring.

It is 13.5-14" wide and the longer piece has almost 60 inches of clear stock, perfect for two table tops.

I started with a new sketch-up model to see how the proportions would work out with the narrower top. It seems to work out pretty well and may actually fit the space better than square tables.

Next I experimented with a couple wood combinations.  We know that we want to use cherry for the base to tie in with the TV stand, I just need to decide whether there should be any more Walnut than just the table top.

This second version uses Walnut for the shelf and the drawer front.  The shelf might be a good idea but I don't think the walnut drawer front really works.

After discussing the new plan with Natalie we decided that I should build a quick prototype  so that she could better visualize the proportions and we could test out the narrow table top. Using the scraps of Doug Fir construction lumber left over from the shed door, I put together a simplified version of the table.  To expedite things I used square legs, no drawer and no shelf. Other than those changes, the prototype should be close to the final design.  All of the parts are connected with dominos and I added a handful of pocket screws to keep things tight, while allowing me to take it apart if I decide to make any changes.

Here it is in the future home of the final version.  The height, at 24" seems to be just about right and the width of the table top seems to be sufficient.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how nice the Doug Fir looks once I cut around most of the large knots. 

So it looks like the dimensions are going to work which means I can use that walnut for my top.  I picked up some 4/4 and 8/4 cherry earlier this summer from a shop that was closing down so I think I may have all the material I need.  There are couple design details left to sort out, namely whether to use cherry or walnut for the shelf, and then I can begin laying out parts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cherry Bookcase Part II

Along with the rest of this fall's adventures I did finally manage to complete the bookcase and get it finished.

I am quite pleased with the end result.  The client decided she liked the solid skirt so I ended up leaving it as it was.

The finish is a coat of amber shellac to give it a slightly warmer tone and then a few coats of laquer.

This was my first time spraying laquer and it went well.  Once I got the viscosity correct it went on well and I was able to get a finished surface off the gun.

I was particularly please with how the mitered corners on the skirt came together.


It's been a busy fall. After our backpacking trip I started in on building the shed. It went up in a weekend with a few nights of work to finish the trim and another afternoon for the roofing.

Getting the skids level.

Then the platform was framed in.

The walls went up quickly enough that I didn't think to stop and take a picture.

We decided that we wanted to have a door knob which could be keyed to match the house, so I built a frame and panel door. The frame is from two 16' Doug fir 2x12s.  I was able to get 5in wide, vertical grain rails and stiles from them with minimal knots.  Some left over scraps of T1-11 siding was used for the panels. The domino made throwing a big door like this together super quick and easy.

Ready for shingles and shelves.  It's amazing how quickly it filled up.

Before Natalie headed off to Greece for a few weeks with her mom and sister we headed up to St Mary's Glacier for our September ski day.

Conditions were pretty rough, but we got more than enough turns in for it to count.

The dogs had fun too.

Wicket was pretty stoked to get to play in the snow and chase sticks in the lake.

While Natalie was traveling I got out biking with Jeff.  We rode from Kenosha pass which is, for obvious reasons, a fall classic in the area.

Despite somewhat ominous weather we had a great ride and didn't see too many people until we were almost back to the car.

Not a bad view.

It's a great ride, smooth, fast and awesome views.

With Natalie back in town it's been time to get things ready for winter. 

The mtn's are beginning to get some snow, although it's been an unusually warm and dry october.

That should start to change here soon and it will be time to tune up the skis.