Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mahogany jewelry box - Part 1

Ok so here we go.

So my niece is turning 11 at the end of March. Let me tell you, she is all girl. Every time I see her, she has new jewelry to show off. I even bought her a small necklace for Christmas and put it inside her coin bank I made for her. I don't know which she liked more. So I think it is about time Uncle J made her a big girl box for her jewels. She is getting old enough that she knows the difference between quality work and Walmart junk. I can take some credit for that, she likes to hang out in the shop with me and learn about what I do.

I want to make a box that will last her a long time. But I don't mean just durability. I also mean I don't want to make it too cutesy with a bunch of hearts all over it. I want her to be able to use this with pride her entire life or a good portion of it. So usually I design with sketchup. But I already have it designed in my head, I just have to adjust dimensions according to my materials. I bought a nice piece of mahogany for this box. I plan to also use some birds eye maple as well. So to give you an idea of the design before we get started, I sketched up a crude drawing on my iPad. It's just a rough sketch, you get the idea. The feet are a work in progress, not sure what they will end up looking like.

The build will be made with traditional joinery. It's just what I prefer and like to do. The case and horizontal drawer fronts will be mahogany and the vertical drawers will be birds eye maple. Drawer boxes will be soft maple with half blind dovetails in the front (yay!) and full in the rear and lined with felt.

With some trial and error, I determined that I have enough lumber in this board to make the case 17" tall by14" wide by 9 1/2" deep. My jointer is only 8" wide so let's get out the good ole jack and jointer.

I rough cut the board into smaller sections to make them easier to flatten. Looks I got a little lucky and got a quarter sawn board.

One down. I call this flat enough. On to the next one. After the boards for the case are flat I ran them through the planer to final thickness of 3/4".

3 sides square, I go ahead and square the ends and cut to length on the sled, using a stop block.

Rip to final width. Yes I know that I don't have a guard on my saw. Calm down, safety police.

All 4 sides of the case laid out in order. The unprocessed board will be the two vertical pieces in the middle, separating the vertical and horizontal drawers.

Got my triangles drawn on and ready for joinery.

Next time we will work on the dovetails for the case.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Drill baby, DRILL!

I am a hybrid woodworker.  I love hand tools, but I recognize the speed and convenience of power tools for certain uses.  For instance, this is my drill press.  Its nothing special.  I bought it used 2 or 3 years ago and I use it almost every time I step foot in the shop.  It is a work horse.  I use it for simple drilling, clearing out waste for mortises, and I have a couple sanding drums that I use all the time.

This is the table that came with the press.  The previous owner made it for this drill press.  It is pretty crude and simple, but it has come in handy for the most part.  However, it has a lot of shortcomings as well.  It really isn't very well made.  It isn't flat.  It does not have a fence or any good way to hold down work other than digging out some F or C clamps, which is cumbersome.

With this design, the back of the table comes right in line with the crank to raise or lower the table.  I have made crude attempts to modify it to make clearance for my knuckles, but never could remove enough material to make it clear my hand.  I can't tell you how many times I have cussed this thing after busting a knuckle.

This is the underside of the table.  As you can see, the previous owner cut the profile of the metal table in bottom layer of plywood and this is the primary method to secure the table to the metal table.  It is pretty rough and not all that tight fitting.  So usually what happens is it will move when I am using the drill press.  And I have scrapped many pieces after drilling in the wrong location because the table moved on me.  I think the previous owner wanted something quick and dirty and this is what he came up with.  I am glad he did, because it has been somewhat useful for the last few years, but it is way past time to upgrade.

So thinking about a new table, one of the things I decided I wanted was a way to hook up my shop vac to minimize dust while using the sanding drums.  I really like to use the drums for rough sanding and shaping small parts.  But as you know, sanding creates very fine dust that is not good for the lungs.  So my thought was that I could not simply bolt a new table to this metal table, because there was no air passage with that method.  I needed to create a sub-structure to raise the new table up and create an airway for the shop vac.  I used some scrap maple and created this simple "box" to sit on the metal table.  After removing about a quarter inch of material where the box contacts the table and cleaning up with chisels, the box sits tight and level and FLAT.

A couple bolts through the box and the metal table secure it nicely.  I then added a couple small pieces of quarter inch plywood to the bottom, secured with screws, sealing off the sub-structure.  Next, the hole for the shop vac attachment is cut and it is attached with some small bolts.

I am already a happy camper because my knuckles clear it just fine.  So the idea I have here is that the new table will fit snugly right over this sub-structure.  Also, I added two threaded inserts, one on each side, to help secure the table down to the sub-structure and keep it from moving.  Now it is time to build the new table.

Fast forward, and here it is!  So the table is 3 pieces of 3/4" birch plywood glued together.  Yes, that is pretty thick, but I wanted it nice and flat and stable, and figured this would help keep it rigid.  The outer skirt is 1 1/2" thick Ash with a 1/4" deep rabbet along the top where the plywood base is attached.  This is another tactic for a nice, flat table.  The corners are just mitered and it is all glued and screwed to the base.

The fence is also Ash and I installed T track on both the face and the top for clamps and hold downs.  You can never have enough T track.  Here you can also see the knobs on the sides that connect to those threaded inserts I told you about earlier.  This makes a pretty secure and rigid setup.  And look, my hand should clear the back just fine when I crank the table up and down.  Very happy about that.

It's a little hard to see, but I included a small chamfer along the bottom of the fence to help with sawdust from getting trapped between the piece I am drilling and the fence.  The finish is just a couple quick coats of amber shellac to give it a little protection and color.  It helped make the walnut dowels I used for plugs for the screw holes stand out as well.  I made up a few hardwood blocks to fit in the center cutout to help with blowouts when drilling.

With the table installed and everything bolted down, it looks like a nice tidy installation.  It's a snug fit and it is very rigid and stable.  The new dust collection works better than I hoped!

Under the hardwood blocks is a 2 1/4" diameter hole drilled all the way through the table.  This connects the air passage for the dust collection.  So I can take out the hardwood block, chuck up the drum and do some sanding.  I rounded off this piece of maple to try it out and very VERY little dust was to be found.  Again, very happy!

Now I just need to get some hold downs and clamps for the T tracks and I am in business!  I can't wait to use it on that first mortise.  I hope this is the last table I ever have to build.  It should last a very long time.

Next up, I am going to do a detailed build along.  There will be many posts along the way.  The project is a jewelry box for my niece's birthday.  She is going to be 11 and she is beginning to collect quite a bit of jewelry.  It's time for a big girl jewelry box!  It will be Mahogany and Maple and will include traditional joinery.  I will use both power and hand tools and will try to show every step of the way.  Stay tuned, the first post should be up in a day or two as I have already begun work.  Until next time, you stay classy, planet Earth!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Absent but not idle

It has been some time since I have made a blog post, but that is not due to lack of shop time!  I have been on a rampage lately with several projects.  Mostly some overdue shop projects in preparation for some bigger projects later this year.  More on that another time.

This is a quick project I did for my sister who just had a birthday a week ago.  Yes I know I am late!  I had some scraps leftover from a butcher block island counter top project that a good friend wanted me to help him on (I'll blog that one when we are done, you can see it in the background of this first pic.)  Why not make a quick end grain cutting board for my sis as a gift?

Since I had odd sized scraps leftover, I wanted to make an appealing pattern with the woods, but couldn't visualize it with end grain up and "swapped".  To test the "swap" part of the design without gluing up the board, I wrapped packaging tape around the mocked up board, very tightly, to simulate the glue up and then cut thin strips off one taped up end.  Since the sticks were all taped together and I cut through the taped ends, the small pieces of these thin strips stayed together, thus I could use them to mock up the pattern.  Once I turned the end grain up and then swapped one end over end, I was then able to see what the pattern looked like and adjust it as needed.  It was a little tricky, but I finally got a pattern I was happy with.

With the design in place, time to glue up!  Never enough clamps....

Once the glue dried, I cleaned up the glue and ran it through the planer.  I used my crosscut sled with a stop block and cut it into strips for the next glue up.  Did the swapperoo to get the final pattern and ready for final glue up.  Again, the glue dried (it was exciting to watch) and I ran it through the planer on very very VERY light passes to clean up both faces.  Ya, there was some blow out on the end, but I planned for it and fixed it with the final dimensioning.

Here is the final product.  Sanded into submission and the finish is an easy one.  I just soaked it in mineral oil until the absorption slowed way down.  Then I heated up some MO with a half and half mixture of beeswax and carnuba wax melted in.  Wiped the oil/wax mixture on the board until I got a decent luster and let it dry.

Oh, one more thing....In order to keep water from getting accidentally trapped under the board and causing a disaster, I decided to try and create some built in feet for the board.  I basically just used my dado stack to clean out the majority of the waste and then used a rasp, round files and sanding to complete the profiles.  I like the look, I just hope my intentions are successful.

Hopefully I will get this out to my sis tomorrow.  Haven't seen her and the fam since xmas, so I am looking forward to it.

I've got some exciting projects coming up soon.  I'll try to be a little more consistent with my posting.  maybe I will do a multi-part series on the entertainment center I will be starting soon.  Until then, cheers!