aunt cathy's cabinet

i've wanted to build a cabinet for my aunt (shh..  surprise..) for quite a while now.  she has been extremely generous to my wife and me, and i wanted to make her something i thought she'd really like.  this will be very similar to the cabinet i built for my mom but a bit more complicated as i'll build a base for it and include a more involved shelving/drawer arrangement inside the case.

here's a sketchup i used to play with dimensions and a few construction details.

the base looks a bit small to me now, i'll have to play with it some more.  top profile still tbd.  doubt i'll use a straight bevel though as i've done a lot of those recently..

so far i've roughed out the parts for the case, door frame and panel.

going to let them sit for a week or two before i work them closer to final dimensions.  i'd like to get going on it as i've recently joined chris hall's online carpentry study group and i want to make sure i have time to keep up with the next project.  not sure what it is yet ;)

enjoy the weekend!


a small thank you..

i mentioned a while back that i started a new job in january of this year.  my immediate task upon starting was to build a software engineering team for a specific project.  our office admin has been incredibly helpful to me as i've stumbled through the company's hiring processes and endless chain of provisioning tasks, etc..  i made her this box as a thank you.  i thought she might use it for snacks or candies at her desk.

she insisted i sign it (not in the habit of doing so though i probably should) and showed it off every chance she got.  turns out two office mates are also woodworkers.  the next week the admin asked if i'd be interested in a 'dahhdoe' table saw thing and some carving knives she'd scored from her brother-in-law as moving casualties..

why yes, thank you ;)

quite a pleasant series of events spawned from a few scraps, a sense of gratitude and a few nights of a favorite activity..


my least favorite tool..

about a month ago i got it into my head that building a 4' straight edge would be a good idea.  i found a suitable piece of stable looking cherry one evening and knocked one out.  one of those 'not so challenging but satisfying as a - you should have done this a long time ago' projects.

i hung it on my wall above the 4' level from lowe's so that it might peer down with disdain over the 'far less accurate' hack i'd been using on the rare occasions i needed a 4' straight edge.  when i needed to flatten my bench for instance..

'hey that's a good idea!  i'll check my bench top.  i haven't flattened it since its initial construction, surely it's moved a bit in the mean time..'

turns out it had moved quite a bit.  perhaps it was a result of using the lowe's level.  perhaps i sucked at leveling a large, flat surface with hand planes.  doesn't matter now.  it was far from flat and my shiny new straight edge was laughing at me.  it's mocking was that much more painful as it is my own creation.

my own little 4' frankenstein..  (yes, i know.  shut up..)

i have adopted the practice of workshop maintenance between projects.  finish a project, take a day to fix all the things in the workshop that bugged me during the last project.  clean/sharpen/oil all the tools, etc..

i finished the side table yesterday (final post with log analysis coming soon..) so today was shop maintenance day and i chose to re-flatten the bench top.  touched up the blade on my new lie-nielsen #6, grabbed some wax and went to work.

for some reason (and this seems to happen to me every time..) i maintained a sense of denial about how out-of-flat my bench really was.  'should just take a couple of passes to bring it back to flat.  i don't need to bust out the scrub or jack planes, i want to play with my new #6!'

three hours later, it's flat.  i do love the flexibility of the #6 and i've gotten to know it quite well over the last month but yeah..  i've had brighter ideas.

she does look pretty though ;)


side table III

got a good amount of shop time in today.

jointed the edges of the boards i'd roughed out for the top and glued it up.  twice actually..  as i was tightening the clamps the first time, i noticed a couple of gaps that i hadn't seen and the hot hide glue i was using wasn't behaving quite the way i'd hoped.  i think i'd let it sit too long.

anyway, i got it all clamped up only to pull it apart, clean it all up and do it again.  the second time it came together quite nicely.

also got the haunch recesses and the tapers cut on the legs.  i 'cut' the tapers with a scrub plane and my new lie-nielsen #6 (damn that's a sweet plane!) rob cosman style.  first time i'd done it that way.  the first couple of legs took a while but i flew through the last two.  i think i still prefer bandsaw/#6 but it's fun to rip chunks out of a board with the scrub now and again.

i'm gonna say i spent 3 hours in the shop today.

next up is cleaning/squaring/shaping the top so i can figure out the length of my aprons.  i'm guessing i'll only get 550x550mm out of the top rather than the 600x600 i'd planned for but we'll see..

total time spent so far = 8.5


side table II

huh.  a month and a half since my last entry.  it's not that i haven't been in the shop doin my thing.  in spite of recently taking a new job (which i'm quite stoked about btw..) i've been able to get at least a little shop time nearly every day.

i've worked on a few different projects which i'll have to show you at some point but i finally got down to the lumber yard and picked up some more cherry to finish the table.  i'd planned to pick up some 8/4 to use for the legs but the yard guy was a little grumpy about pulling the bunk down for me.  he pointed to the 5 sorry-est looking planks i've seen in a while (the dregs of the last bunk) and said, 'what's wrong with those?'


i decided to hack the legs out of a large 10' 12/4 cherry plank i've had sitting around for 5 or 6 years waiting for that 'perfect' project.  it's in the way and i need legs.  i cleaned up one face well enough to study the grain a bit and picked my section.  bow saw chewed through it like a fiend.

about 1.5hrs into the day, i'd roughed out four legs and aprons.

let a week pass and brought them to final(ish) dimensions.  decided one of the legs wasn't up to snuff and hacked out another one real quick.  about 1 hour including some shop cleanup.

came home from dinner tonight and told the wife i was gonna 'tink-tink' for a bit.  that's code around here for chopping mortises.  got the all clear and went to work.  layout and devastation of the 8 leg mortises took a good two hours.

i still need a lot of practice chopping mortises by hand.  i'm still much slower than i'd like to be.  a good portion of that time was spent figuring out how i wanted to do the front apron (due to the drawer) but seriously..

haven't done the haunch recesses yet..

total hours so far = 5.5


side table

so it turns out i'm going to take my own advice and keep a log for my next project.  my wife and i need new coffee and side tables.  they'll be fairly straight forward arts & crafts style so they fit in with the rest of our decor.  i'll start with the side table as i want to play with some details, proportions and possibly some subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) leg shaping on a less expensive piece that i can give away if we decide we don't like it.

i'm trying to clear out a large project (which i haven't shown you yet..) but i'm down to a couple of very minor trim pieces and figured i may as well start roughing out parts for this project while i curse and fit the trim.

for the record.  i can't stand built-ins..

anyway, as this is the first actual project that i've started since i began the blog, i figured it would be a good one to, well..  log, i guess.  plus, it's such a simple project that it'll be fun to play with the process a bit.  i'm not trying to find out how quickly i can build this.  in fact, i plan to take my time.  i want to get an idea of how long steps might typically take at a nice easy pace.  if i want to sit and fuss over some meaningless detail for an hour or two i will.

here's as far as i got in sketchup.  just enough to get the dimensions and proportions sorted a bit..

i was able to sort through my rapidly dwindling stock of cherry, rough out parts for the top and decide on a pleasing panel arrangement in an hour.  crosscut with the bow saw, jointer-planer-jointer, and ripped to rough width on the table saw.

thought i had some 8/4 for the legs but i don't so i'll have to stop and pick some up in the next day or two.

total hours so far = 1


get woodworking week

i've really enjoyed reading all the blogs this week.  lots of great ideas and tales of efforts to inspire someone to take up an activity that i really get a kick out of.  i felt a little left out because i couldn't come up with anything to contribute.  nothing that wouldn't conflict with my 'i have nothing to teach you' mantra at any rate..

then i came up with an original idea.  i've had two original ideas so far in my time here on earth and i'm too old to remember now but i think the first may well have been to keep track of how many original ideas i have..


i was doing something woodworking related (i can't say specifically, it'll spoil a surprise) and feeling quite grateful for everyone that had helped me discover what a great thing it is to work wood.  there are those that gave me the initial inspiration, those that put a tool in my hand to get me started, and those that offered their assistance and advice when i got stuck, or wanted to know more about something new.

i found a way today to thank someone that, though we've never met, has helped me a great deal with some of the more recent discoveries in my woodworking journey.  i hope he enjoys it but even if doesn't, it felt good to make an effort on his behalf in a show of gratitude.  something i should have done a long time ago.

so, here's my small offering to 'get woodworking week'.  as the week draws to a close, think of all those that helped you along the way, pick one, and thank them..


mom's cabinet II

thought i'd throw up some final pics of the cabinet i built my mom for christmas.  i ended up spending a whole lot of time on things that never sound like they'll be a big deal during the planning phase.  the pull, the latching mechanism and a surprise door twist (i swear it was flat when i put finish on it..) ended up taking a good bit of time.  i really need to start keeping a project log to keep track of the time i spend on different aspects of each project.  bet i'd learn a lot from it.  anyway..

here are a couple pics of me working on the pull.  i had a not-so-original idea in my head and kept poking a piece of scrap with a chisel until it gave me what i want.

here's a pic of my 'i want to fuss on this a while' set up.  notice it gives me 3 stops to work against.  very fast..

and here's a shot of the finished pull.  i'm quite happy with it..

a few shots of the finished cabinet..

the finish is shellac and wax on the maple panel, oil and wax on the rest.

overall, i'm quite pleased with it.  it's the first project i've built around a specific piece of wood (door panel) which was interesting because i had to size the cabinet around it, rather than build the door to fit the cabinet. it's also the first (non shop) project where i've cut the dovetails by hand.  embarrassingly, it's also the first thing i've made for my mom.  lot of firsts and it was fun..


the crazy englishman..

crap, two months in and i already have to play catch-up with my blog.  here goes..

my wife lived up to her 'coolest.wife.on.the.planet.' reputation this christmas and bought me paul sellers' working wood dvd and book series.  i watched all 7 dvds in two days and i've watched several for a second time since then.

i love this guy.

each dvd follows paul as he builds a project.  the projects begin with a simple cooking spoon which covers paul's ideas on shaping wood and progress through boxes (dovetails), bookshelves (dadoes), tables (mortise/tenon), etc..  each project builds on the lessons that came before while focusing on the current project's relevant techniques.  

the technical lessons are masterfully demonstrated, thoroughly explained and amazingly well shot.  in most of the technical instruction video i've seen, you don't see the same level of detail that the narrator sees.  'see how i'm splitting that knife line in half?  uh no, actually..  not usually.  this dvd set is different.  nearly every time i leaned into the monitor to get a closer look, the camera would switch to an amazingly relevant angle and focal point.  it happened so often that i started laughing.  bravo..

none of this however, is why you want to own this dvd set.  sure, you'll pick up some tips.  paul's been a master woodworker for over 40 years.  you're going to learn something.  there will be a few 'aha!' moments.  for me it was his mortising technique.  i have frank klausz and bob lang's videos (which i also highly recommend) on cutting mortise and tenons.  i've read everything i can find on the joint.  but paul's tip about keeping the bevel vertical on the trip back up the ramp was pure gold for me.  i spent a whole afternoon playing with it.

the reason you want to buy this dvd set though, isn't the techniques, it's paul.  specifically, paul's attitudes on working wood.  he prefers peace and quiet to the scream of a router and the snick of his beloved #4's blade to feeding a dust collector.  he uses machines (as i've come to) to dimension rough lumber to size and uses hand tools for joinery and finish prep.  he believes we're a generation of hobbyists and professionals who, in absense of a proper guild system, have been educated (and ultimately misled) by magazines and tv shows that exist to sell us tools we don't need.  this dvd series covers exactly what paul thinks we DO need.

i have only two gripes about the dvds.  first, paul spends almost no time discussing finishing except to let us know that a finishing dvd is in the works.  second, the editing really started to get on my nerves after a while.  the woodworking action is constantly interrupted by computer animation that is sometimes a helpful rendering of a cut or display of a technique but is often just an unwelcome interruption.  i appreciate what he's trying to do here but i wasted enough time playing quake II and unreal tournament, thank you.  the shots of penrhyn castle and the furniture within are easily an even trade however.  what an awesome place to have a workshop.  in all, these are minor, minor complaints in light of everything that's presented and i'm sure he'd have a few choice words for my refusal to properly capitalize, so a grain of salt if you will..

i'm working through the book which is proving to be much more than just a reiteration of the dvds.  there's quite a bit of good content that i'm sure they wouldn't have had time to film.  i was happily surprised to find that it wasn't just the 'workbook' i was expecting.

the wife comes through, as always..