Cleaning up the Carcase

Way back when, I was waiting to glue the carcase together and decided to fit the small stiles. These pieces of cherry cover the plywood from my I-Beam dividers. I went over this in this post. What I didn’t mention was in my haste I opted to fit the small dividers from the clamped up version instead of waiting until I had the actual glue up complete.

Lesson learned.

The resulting stiles ended up a little short, which caused the repairs in the following gallery.

The other clean up task was to level the small stiles to be flush with the rails. Here’s how I did it:

I hope to lay out the dovetails and get to cutting the drawers soon.

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Daunting Drawers

The next move in the dresser is to build and fit seven drawers. I’m daunted by this task. This tends to cause procrastination, which isn’t always a bad thing but it doesn’t help with progress. More on the procrastination tasks later. For now, let’s dive in.

All the drawers milled up and ready for rough dimensioning

All the drawers milled up and ready for rough dimension

I’ve never cut a dovetail other than a few practice cuts over a year ago. Plus I’ve only ever fit a drawer once. It was in 2010 for the Shaker Table Guild Build. It’s a good thing I do research for a living. I scoured my digital and analog resources to find a comprehensive explanation of how to systematically tackle a project of this size.

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Sampling of resources

Unfortunately, none of my research turned up something comprehensive. There were tips for how to do things here and there but nothing really summarized how to tackle this many drawers. Therefore, in the spirit of contributing to the community, I offer the following process:

1. Cut drawer parts to rough dimension

2. Use the drawer BACKS as a way to figure out the proper size of the openings (this way you won’t screw up the fronts in case grain continuity is important). Thanks Tom Fidgen

3. Cut the sides using 1/4″ or so less than the shortest dimension of your opening.

4. Cut the dovetails (using the back-to-side joints first for practice).

5. Fit the drawers to the openings without the bottoms.

6. Install the bottoms.

7. Refit the drawers and do any final tweaking.

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While cutting the backs and the sides I realized my drawer openings are not as square as they should be. I knew this was a potential problem given my design and lack of experience when building this.

Example of less-than-squareness. The right side fits snug but the left side won't fit at all.

Example of less-than-squareness: The right side fits snug but the left side won’t fit at all.

The key here (I think) is to use the largest dimension and then cut the dovetails with the drawer parts being square.  I confirmed this with an email to Marc Spagnuolo.  The theory is to fit the drawers after they are built instead of trying to cut joinery in catawumpus  parts. I’ll let you know how this goes as it’s new territory for me. As of publication, I’m only at step #3 so if things change I’ll update my post.

If you have any advice or thoughts on my process please use the comments section to help out.

 

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Kids Stool Finished

I was back in the shop this weekend cleaning up the stool for my daughter and teaching her how to use some of the equipment. Here she is giving it a test run.

Sized perfectly

Sized perfectly

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Here’s what it looked like pre four year old. Not bad.

I was ready to put on a few coats of shellac, but she had a better idea.

“Daddy, let’s paint it pink.”

“Ummm, I don’t have any pink paint. We do have leftover purple paint from your bedroom.”

“PURPLE!!! Yeay!!! Do you have a little kids paint brush”?

“Yep.”

 

Instead of watching Frozen for the 100th time, she asked to put a second coat on last night. Then during breakfast this morning she asked if we could check and see if the paint was dry. She rarely thinks of anything other than food, Ana, or Elsa. Smitten would be an understatement.

Testing out the paint job

Testing out the paint job

I try not be be precious about my stuff. If I was, I wouldn’t have taught my daughter how to use a paint brush for the first time. She wouldn’t tell other people about the purple stool she made with her dad. And I’d be lame…

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Stand Up!

Last month I saw a post from Bill Schenher at Billy’s Little Bench about getting kids in the shop. His daughter is a year or two older than my oldest. I was intrigued by the stool she was standing on so he put out a special post about the stool. Thanks Bill!

I showed my daughter the post and she asked if we could make one. Off to the scrap pile…

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Oak and ash from the scrap pile

Using some scrap oak I was able to come up with enough material to make a nice little bench. It’s mostly a hand tool build with some Follansbee-esque techniques for cutting the mortises and rabbets. I was working in straight-grained oak after all.

Here are some shots of my progress so far.

The best part is that my daughter was so excited that she came down and helped me put some of the pieces together. You’ll note the costume change because she came down two days in a row. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Really.

I still need to clean things up, put some finish on it, and take some glamour shots.

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Lumber Supplier: Is the Search Finally Over?

I found a little gem of a place not too far from my in-laws place. It’s called Homestead Hardwoods. It’s just south of Sandusky, OH. It’s only 45 minutes from my house and 15 minutes from the in-laws. Very doable.

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This seems like the kind of place Chris Schwarz would dig since it has a Mid-West Woodworking vibe. It’s real laid back with quite reasonable prices. I think they cater to the wooden boat building crowd found around the island area of north-central Ohio. They have lots of wide teak and mahogany. I’ve never used either of these species but I might have to after seeing some of the boards available.

Check out this piece of 8′ x 24″ walnut for a ridiculously cheap price of $188; there is a matching piece tucked under the bottom shelf. Nuts. I should’ve bought them both but restrained since I don’t have a project requiring this board.

8' x 24" piece of choice walnut

8′ x 24″ piece of choice walnut

Here is a photo gallery from my trip a few weeks ago. If you ever need someone to tag along for a trip please let me know. I’m in.

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Design Decisions on the Dresser

Before going into the design decisions, let me catch you up on the dresser:

1. I attached the back. It was more eventful than it should’ve been but it’s done.

It was supposed to look prettier but that's a longer story

It was supposed to look prettier but that’s a longer story

2. I took the plunge and cut up the boards for the drawer fronts. Three perfectly selected boards with four strategic cuts. I hope I don’t screw anything up from here on out…

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Layout

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Point of no return

3. I glued up two pieces of pretty choice cherry for the top. Things are still rough but this was a great way to pass the time while I waited for the 8″ jointer to go in at the NCCW shop.

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Top Glue Up

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Straight on shot of the dresser with the top dry fit.

Now on with the dilemma. One of the key things I’ve learned in my non-career as a designer is the staleness of 3/4″ material. This is especially true for featured components like a table tops, panels, and legs. If you study historical pieces you’ll find very little 3/4″ material. Many tops were 7/8″ minimum and in the case of the dresser I’m mostly concerned about the top.

Askew shot due to the assembly table being in the way

Askew shot due to the assembly table’s location

When I went to source my top pieces from Keim Lumber, I was pretty much stuck with what they had available. This is one of the problems with being in a lumber desert like I am right now. They had some nice wide cherry but nothing was thick or in the rough. I actually don’t think it looks terrible but I want to beef up the look. What do you think? Maybe some of my woodworking and non-woodworking readers could chime in with advise.

Another shot

Another side shot

And Another

Another frontal from the iPhone

I asked my wife since she has a great design sense and always keeps me straight. The first thing she doesn’t like is the left/right overhang. She doesn’t mind the look itself but she’s concerned our girls, the intended recipients, will run into the overhang. Point taken, and I agree.

I mentioned how much I liked Marilyn’s top on her TV lift on her site and this was my original intent when I designed the top. I don’t think this approach will work with the top I currently have.

I’m looking for your help.

As I see it there are several ways I can go:

1. Trim the overhang to an inch or so and use breadboard ends with thicker pieces of cherry (or a contrasting wood). This might help give some visual weight.

2. Scab on some “matching” cherry to the perimeter of the top and go with a bevel. Hmmm, probably won’t look good.

3. Scab on some poplar to build up the top and apply a simple moulding to cover said poplar. I like this idea but I don’t think the moulding will go with the construction of the case. Specifically, I’m thinking of the way the legs meet the top.

I’m leaning toward choice #1 but the breadboard ends might need to overhang just as much as the current top to look right. That won’t make it past the planning committee. Can you help a brotha out? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about this just yet since the next step is to test out the new 8″ jointer while milling up the drawer parts. This will help me immensely since all the pieces are larger than the capacity of my jointer. I really didn’t want to mill up the drawer parts for seven drawers by hand. Thank you Sharing Economy.

More to come hopefully since I’m on the road and have time to think and put my thoughts into electrons.

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More Cutting Boards

The summer of cutting boards continues. This time I made another nine boards for the North Coast Community Woodshop. Here is a link to my personal Facebook page where I’m selling the boards. This is an experiment to see if people are interested in purchasing them via the NCCW Paypal account. We’ve sold two so far.

Cool.

If you’re interested, please let me know via Facebook or the blog. The Live Edge boards are $45 and the others are $35. Shipping charges will be assessed as well. We’re trying to keep things simple…

The next post will be about stuff in my shop. I think.

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