The Finish Line

Welcome back! For those of you that follow me on Twitter (see the link to the right) and Google+, you may have seen a few updates to the glue-up and staining progress. The glue-up went surprisingly well (anything that turns out right is surprising to me at this stage), albeit slowly since I don’t have that many clamps.

Glue-up 1After the glue-up I took the top outside and sanded it down to 400 grit to get it as smooth as possible. Not as good as a smoothing plane, but that don’t work so well on plywood, does it?

After a quick drop-on test fit, I finally got around to applying stain. One of the overriding factors in this project is that it would have to relatively dark to “fit in” with the dark office furniture we have. I think the laminate is supposed to look like walnut, but its really hard to tell at this point. I decided to stain the top and base separately, but this ended up making it take longer since I could only do one at a time. Not a decision I regret since I don’t think it would have come out as well if I did it the other way.

The only stain I had on hand that would have been even remotely close was a Watco Cherry Danish Oil. I did some testing on scraps of all 3 woods, and they all came out with a more reddish tint than would work for me, so on my way home from work the next day I headed to the local Woodcraft and chose a General Finishes American Walnut oil stain. I started applying that night, and knew I was on the right track after the first coat.

Desk Top-1st coat The next week or so were full of evenings of “apply a coat, wait until tomorrow”, but after 4 or 5 coats I finally got it to the tone I was looking for. So then it was time to move on to the legs. These actually went quicker, or at least they seemed to since it was just one type of wood and a consistent absorption and curing rate. All in all, I’m somewhat amazed that all three types of wood came out as close as they did.

Next came the varnish. I used Arm-R-Seal since its easy to apply and I like the look of the satin finish. Nothing more complicated than that. I used old, clean T-shirt pieces to apply, with #0000 steel wool rub-downs on either side of the final coat. All-in-all, the finishing took about 2 weeks, wrapping up around Halloween.

The following weekend I finally got to move it into it’s final location-my day-job office. As I said at the beginning of this project, I have a space in the corner next to my regular desk that I wanted to use for working on other computers without taking up any space on my desk. This is the perfect size for setting up a keyboard, mouse, monitor and other connections so I can quickly set up a desktop or laptop and access it quickly just by swinging my chair around.

Transporting was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I assumed (yes, I know) that with the base’s odd shape, I would be able to slide the long side into the trunk with the back seats folded down and the other end would plop down nicely into the trunk opening. Not so. Turns out either the left side was too wide or the front-left section was too long to be able to fit it in the trunk without breaking it, so I ended up wrapping a blanket around the front-center leg and rested it on the back window while coming through the gap between the trunk lid and the window. Then I tied down the trunk lid carefully to prevent damage, and I was on my way. Luckily the weather cooperated.

I got it to the office in one piece (well, actually 2 pieces), laid the top upside-down on the carpet and attached the base with some table clips I picked up at Woodcraft. I cleaned out the corner and dropped in the desk. Perfect fit! It came out a little taller than I intended, about a half-inch taller than the other desk, but I can live with that.

So, now that that’s all done, what’s next? Well, one thing this project drove home is that at this point, my basement/workshop is so cluttered that I spent more time moving stuff around to make room for that task at hand than I spent working on the desk, so I’ll be spending a lot of time just cleaning. I also plan on making some small things like a bench hook and shooting board.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Posted in Projects

Mini-Desk, Joinery Edition

So, I’ve been kind of stalled the past couple of weeks while I tried to figure out how I was going to join the legs to the aprons. I thought about going full mortise & tenon, but seeing as I’ve never done one before and this is supposed to be a relatively quick project, I quickly tossed that idea. The second issue I wanted to address was to somehow dress up the aprons so they wouldn’t be too plain. At first I thought to add a slight arch to each of the pieces, but since they are all different lengths, (from 8″ up to 40″), that would be more trouble than it was worth. Inspiration came in the form of the latest issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. There I noticed an article that showed a Shaker side table, and two things caught my eye-one was the edge detail given to the aprons, and the other was the use of dowels to join the legs to the aprons.

The edge detail it showed was a simple bead along the bottom edge. And as luck would have it, I actually picked up a beading bit from Rockler sometime during the past year when they had it on sale for $9.99. Score! So now I had to cut the 4 aprons down to size, and since they’re all different lengths I couldn’t just measure 2 sides, cut two pieces for each measurement, and be done with it. Nope, I had to do each one individually, and I figured the easiest way was to mark where each leg would be on the underside of the top and measure in between. Once that was done, it was off to the table saw to cut each piece to length. Let me reiterate that I really dislike having to make crosscuts on this thing. Having a non-adjustable sliding miter table is really annoying when I keep having to back the miter/crosscut fence off 90 degrees by 1 degree in order to get it square. I need to come up with a way to make a crosscut sled that will work on it.

Anyway, once I had those cuts done, I set up the router table with the beading bit and ran a few test cuts to make sure the profile looked right. I have to say, making the bead was one of the easiest parts of this project, but it makes the finished product so much nicer. I really love this router! (yes Dyami, just one).

I still hadn’t cleaned up the saw marks on the legs yet, so I finally got to break out the hand planes. God, what fun that was! I used a combination of a  #4 smoother and a low-angle block plane, and once I got tuned-in and going, it was hard to stop. I know this is only poplar, but the planes left a surface smoother than anything I’ve ever gotten from sanding. And quite a pile of shavings!

Next up is attach the aprons to the legs in a sturdy, non time-consuming way. I have a dowel jig, I had a bag of dowels the right size, so this was also a no-brainer. My dowel jig is actually a BeadLock device, but I didn’t quite use it the way it’s meant to be. I just drilled out the 3 primary holes so I could get 3 dowels in there close together. Just had to make sure I used the same measurement down from the top of the legs and aprons to set the jig so everything would line up, and even this was just a “yeah, that looks good” kind of measurement. I had to really concentrate here to keep the position of each leg straight in my head so that each leg would have the right number of holes drilled in the right place, as 2 legs only have one set of holes and the other 3 legs have 2 sets. Once the drilling was done, I did a dry fit using 2 dowels per face, laid the desktop on top of the base and was actually somewhat amazed it looked as good as it does!

Next up: Glue-up and maybe even finishing! Thanks for reading, and please let em know what you think.

 

 

Posted in Projects

Oh, How I Wish

As many of you know, Woodworking in America is being held this weekend in Covington, KY. Only a year ago, I was barely aware of this event, and now it has reached a status in only a few short years of becoming a pilgrimage of sorts for woodworkers. This year’s event is being billed as The Ultimate Joinery Weekend, and to go over the list of presenters and vendors in the marketplace can only make a woodworker drool. I had really hoped that I could have made it to the event, but it is not to be. Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten to know (at least digitally speaking) many great woodworkers from around the U.S. and Canada, and it’s been a hope of mine to get to meet some of them in person and share stories about our common passion. This would have been the weekend to do it, but I just wasn’t able to get it worked into the budget.

If you’ve read my About page, you will notice that I am separated from my wife of almost 20 years. This has been in place for a little over 2 years now, and in all honesty, is about as amicable as one could expect these days, but it does make things financially difficult at times. Our two children, one in college and one a senior in high school, are my first priority. My woodworking budget pretty much falls into the “whatever is left at the end of the month” category, and trips to an event like this don’t even make it onto the list-at least not this year. I’m now committed though to save up enough so I can make the trip next year without causing a financial strain. Sure, I’ll have to pinch some pennies here and there, but I can do it. Although I doubt I’ll be purchasing my first Festool anytime soon, I hope to at least be able to purchase a couple really nice tools at the marketplace there next year to start filling out my collection.

But still, in my own way, I’ll be having my own woodworking/vacation weekend anyway, so don’t worry about me. Tomorrow when most of my friends who are going will be winging or driving their way to the greater Cincinnati area, I’ll be taking off for the beach for a day or so, then coming home to make some progress on the Mini Desk. And I’ll be monitoring my Twitter and Google+ streams for as much information from the event as possible, and then looking forward to the sure to be numerous blog posts that will be appearing over the next several weeks.

I hope everyone that is going has a great time, and be sure to have a beer for me. Oh, how I wish I was there with you.

Posted in General

She’s Got Legs

Sorry-had to throw a little ZZ Top in there, but it works. Anyway I haven’t really gotten a lot done on the desk since the last post, and the main reason is I couldn’t decide how to shape the legs. They’re just being made from 2×2 poplar stock from the BORG, but I didn’t want to just leave them square. I really wanted to try some Greene & Greene style (a la Darrell Peart), but my skills and time just aren’t there quite yet. Turning is out of the question as I have no lathe-yet. So, inspiration hit me when I saw a Rockler ad that had their Tapering Jig on sale for $15. I threw in a couple hold down clamps to the order so I could also get free shipping, and I was in business. The package was delivered Friday-perfect timing for a good weekend in the shop. Once I got the jig put together, I set my table saw up again (it came with a collapsible stand and shares the space with my Workmate), and after a few test cuts to get the angle I liked, I started by cutting the first side, reset the jig, rotated the wood 90 degrees counter-clockwise, and cut the second face. Now I just have to remove the saw marks. Time to break out the hand planes-finally!

Next up-the aprons. I might even try my hand at a little mortise & tenon just to see what happens. Tune in!

Posted in Projects

Mini-Desk, Mini-Update

The past couple of have been, well, busy to say the least. Most of it has involved getting my son back to college, and trying to motivate an almost 21 year-old to actually plan ahead and not wait until the last minute to get ready is a challenge in and of itself. So now, after a 2 day, 960+ mile road trip to and from Boston, he is now in his dorm ready to get back to classes. By the way, for the beer-lovers out there, there is a great restaurant in nearby Allston, MA called the Sunset Grill & Tap that has an AMAZING beer menu-112 on tap alone. Oh, and great food too. 🙂

So over that time I’ve only had little bits of time in the shop to work on the desk, and most of that has been getting the last 2 pieces of the edging cut and fit into place. It was somewhat challenging given the short lengths, combinations of inside/outside corner cuts and me not wanting to keep setting up and taking down the router table and miter saw whenever adjustments needed to be made. And some of those ‘adjustments’ were having to cut and shape entirely new pieces when I would either cut something too short, or blow out an edge when not paying attention. But then, on a rather wet Labor Day, I finally succeeded in getting all the parts fit and glued up, although the piece at the center of the desk cut out-the one at 45 degrees, did need a little ‘motivation’ from a mallet, which I was happy to provide.

Now that this part is complete except for sanding, I can get started on the base, which is being made from dimensional poplar. There will be a total of five legs, one at each of the 90 degree corners, leaving the cut out section open for me to move in and out as needed. I’m going to see if I can visualize this part through Sketchup, but I have a feeling that I’ll end up using pencil and paper instead. Either way, I’ll get that put up here as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading, and as always, comments are welcome.

Posted in Projects

Mini Desk, Pt. 2

Since finishing the Plane Till, I’ve had a couple of good weekends where the weather has cooperated enough for me to make progress on the desk. Given the small size of my shop, and limited dust collection ability, it’s sometimes easier (and less messy) to set up some power tool work outside in my backyard. In this case we’re talking about my router table, which handled the dual role of dimensioning the maple edge stock to match the thickness of the plywood top build-up, as well as adding a 1/4″ round-over profile. My router table setup, as you can see, consists of my Workmate with a 2′ x 4′ sheet of plywood clamped in it, and a Craftsman (Skil) router table clamped to that. The router is a Rigid R2901 which I’ve had for about 5 years. I had to make some modifications to the table to get the two to work together, since its not as common as say a Porter-Cable, but other that that it’s a great piece of machinery.

I took about 5/64th” off the bottom surface of the stock using a top-bearing pattern bit, then switched it out for 1/4″ round-over all along one long edge. This round-over will end up being the outside edge of the desktop. Then I pulled out my trusty Delta miter saw to start cutting the pieces to length. I guess I underestimated the amount of wood needed , because I came up a little short and had to make another trip to Home Depot- for about 2 ft. worth of stock.

After I had gone through the whole router setup again to get the right amount for the last two sections, I finally proceeded with the glue-up. I actually thought a long time about whether or not to use biscuits on this part, and ultimately decided against it because a) it would add a lot more time to the project since I don’t have a very good biscuit jointer, and b) it really wouldn’t add significant strength since the overall size is rather small.

This is what it looks like at the moment. I haven’t had the opportunity to finish the glue-up yet, but I’ll be sure to post more pics when that’s done.

As always, thanks for reading, and I look forward to feedback as to how I’m doing.

Posted in Misc.

Till I’m Done

Since last week, what little shop time I’ve had has been focused on getting the plane till done, since I really can’t move forward on the mini-desk until I clear this out. So, in spits and spurts I go into the shop, sand it down, apply a coat of Arm-R-Seal, wait a day and go back and do it all over. Then the weekend came and the humidity went through the roof again, so the drying time also escalated accordingly. The other night finally saw the last coat go down, the next morning I gave it a good rub down with #0000 steel wool. Finally last night I added the screws, which have absolutely no function, but look pretty cool I think. Here’s a small gallery of the finished product, now waiting for me to start building a tool cabinet to go around it. Maybe in the fall/winter. Maybe. After more cleaning, I promise.

Now, back to work on the mini-desk. Another update soon!

Posted in Misc.
  • "I'm still waiting for that fucking shower, let's just put it that way."-Neal E. 2017 3 months ago
  • “This country makes my asshole pucker.” -Neal E. 2017 5 months ago
  • "It's like Christmas shopping for someone you don't know for what they're going to like one year from now." -on trend shopping, 2016 8 months ago
  • "It was like Mother Teresa. It was on display for like 10 years until she degraded." Neal E. '16, on the novelty pastry attraction "Nun Bun" 9 months ago
  • “My biscuits are burnin’ ” -Neal E. 2016 9 months ago
  • "We hired him. He was decoration." Neal E. 2016, in reference to the presence of a paid performer at a holiday office party 9 months ago
  • "That movie turned me gay." -Neal E. 2016, in reference to the 1987 sci-fi film Predator 9 months ago

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