Steve, in the Garage, with the Candlestick

Due to things around the house, NBA and NHL playoffs, traveling for work, and other things I can’t remember at this time I haven’t been able to spend much time in the garage lately.  What little time I’ve had I’ve been working on a set of candle holders:

One thing I’m proud of is that while I’m following the jist of the plans, I’m adding a few flairs of my own along the way. The plans called for the windows to be squared up, but I decided to keep them round. I think it is a warmer look, no pun intended.

While I have the basic forms prepared, I have quite a bit fitting to do, especially with the mitred corners:

I’m also thinking about possibly rounding over those corners after I have the mitres fit. Should I do the round-over before or after I’ve glued the joint? It will be easier to control cutting on the edge after the joint is cured, but I’m at a bigger risk of ruining the whole thing.  Thoughts?

The Day in Shavings – 31 March 2010

I haven’t been able to get much time in the garage lately, so I’ve only made a little progress on those candle holders.

Yesterday I put the chamfer on the tops of all the sides of the holders using a bit in my router table. I have a 45′ chamfer bit, but only one.  I came to realize why a woodworker needs so many sizes/variants of the same tool. The candle holders call for a chamfer on the inside of the top edge, which gives the top a nice reveal. The plans have that chamfer extending half the thickness of the side – but mine won’t quite be that “deep” because my chamfer bit isn’t that big.  I realize I could go to my hand planes to finish the chamfer, but my desire to adhere to the plans isn’t great enough for me to figure out the proper work holding to do so [/benchless guy].

These candle holders have a shelf that supports the candle inside them, about half way up the stand. I made up for the lack of a stacked dado set by using a simple stop block and my normal table saw blade to make the dado. I set the saw fence at the proper distance so the blade would cut a kerf at the bottom of the dado. I then lined up the top of the dado and clamped a stop block in place on the auxiliary fence I made for my mitre gauge. I cut those two reference kerfs, then make several passes to chip away the rest, in a similar fashion to how Norm Abram makes his tenon shoulder cuts.

I also cut the mitres for assembling the holders on both edges of each side. This is significant in that previously I had never made an angled cut on my tablesaw; the blade had always been perpendicular to the table top. Happily the “preset” on the angle adjuster was pretty good, so I didn’t have to do fiddle much to get a 45′ cut.  The fence took a little more time to adjust, as I was getting used to figuring out the distance between where the fence was and where the blade would exit the top of the piece.

The most difficult part of the setup was safety. As I was cutting one of the test pieces, I noticed the wood wanted to ride up the blade, off the table.  After immediately stopping the blade, I went to work affixing a couple of homemade featherboards to the fence to hold the piece flat. Because my finished dimensions are only 4″ wide, the featherboards now presented a pushing problem. I was very nervous using a push stick because now there wasn’t any room to the right (the featherboards) and putting my hands to the left would put them closer to the blade.  I eventually (albeit slowly) pushed the pieces through with a skinny push stick, with only the featherboards providing downward force. There was some burning, but nothing the card scraper won’t be able to handle.

I know I’ve been behind on posting new designs/drawings. Rest assured, I have several ideas I want to sketch up, I just haven’t gotten around to spending time with the paper and pencil.  What little I’ve done is to start thinking about the layout of a low entertainment center I need to build for my basement. That design will definitely get built.

Wow – I didn’t expect to write all that. Maybe it should have been a “full” post with some pictures…

The Day in Shavings – 21 March 2010

I wanted to jot down a few things about what I did today in the shop,  but I don’t have a huge write up or pictures – so I’ve come up with “The Day in Shavings.” I think this will let me post more frequently,without the “pressure” of putting together something long and/or pretty.

I’ve started working on a set of candle stands, as shown in Woodsmith Magazine #185. I bought a 4/4 birdseye maple board a few months ago. However, these plans call for 1/2″ stock. I don’t have a planer, so I had to head over to my buddy Brian’s basement to work the stock down. I decided I couldn’t bring myself to wipe out half the board, so it sits at 5/8″ instead of taking all the way down to one half.

Once I got back to my garage, I started working on constructing the jig to cut the windows in each side of the stands consistently. Rumaging through the scrap bin was enough to find the pieces I needed to complete the jig, which is currently sitting in clamps.

I also started working on the strips that will form the bars in each opening.  I have a little bit of walnut and much more paduak, so I cut both to proper width on the table saw. I barely have enough walnut to complete one candle stand, but I should easily have enough paduak to complete two (which is the goal).

My next opportunity in the garage should be enough to cut the sides to size out of that maple board, perhaps even complete the beveling on all the pieces as well.

Christmas Gifts – Domino Box

While I was working on the set of dominos for my parents, I was also working on a box to hold the set.  I liked the idea of box joints, but really liked  the joints Marc Spagnolo created for the case of his Gagdet Station.

Based on the size and number of dominos I was creating, I had some basic dimensions to work with and settled on this sketch for my box design:

After several iterations (seen above), I decided on three fingers for the sides – each 3/4″ wide, with two fingers for the ends – each 9/8″ wide.  I liked not just the varied width of the fingers, but having an even number of fingers on one face and an odd number on the adjacent face.

I really wanted to go two-tone with the sides of this box and had previously purchased paduak and birdseye maple for the job. To create the extended box joints,  I created a jig for the mitre gauge on my table saw:

I don’t yet have a stacked dado blade set, so cutting the fingers involved several passes over the blade.  I used a stop block on both ends of the jig to set boundaries for how far to each side I could cut, then made passes over the blade, slowly moving the piece from one stop block to the other. I clamped opposing sides of the box together, both to decrease the number of cuts I was making and to create matching sides to make the fitting easier.

After several dozen passes of the mitre gauge, I was left with four close to fitting box sides:

On the table saw, I made a concerted effort to cut on the waste side of my markout lines – so I could custom work the fit of each set of fingers with a rasp. After fitting the fingers, I used the rasp to roundover the ends of each finger. I didn’t fully pillow the finger tips, but just broke the sharp edges enough to soften the profile.

With the sides fitted and shaped, I took my focus to the top and bottom of the box. For the bottom I used a piece of 1/2″ birch plywood. With my router table, I cut a groove on the inside of each side of the box.  On the maple ends, the groove went completely through end-to-end. On the paduak sides, a through groove would show on the outside of the box, so for the first time I [slowly] dropped a piece of wood onto an already spinning router bit. I was surprised by how smoothly that went – hopefully my over-anxiousness was the key to the safety of the operation.

For the top, I used another piece of the birdseye maple.  Again on the router table, I cut a rabbet on all for edges – allowing the top to rest within the opening of the box itself. For the pull on the top, I used a scrap of paduak.  I first routed a groove with a 3/8″ core box bit on both sides of the paduak, about 1″ from the end. Then I chucked a 1/2″ roundover bit and profile the edge on both sides as well. A couple of countersunk screws from beneath the top, some Titebond II, and my assembly was complete!

After I wrestled the box away from its clamp-monster, it only took a few brushed on coats of amber shellac to complete the box:

Santa’s Supply Shop

Thanks in part to some of exhortation from Tom, this week I paid a quick visit to my local hardwood dealer, Vienna Hardwoods, to pick up a few new species for the garage.

Up to this point, I’ve only worked with red oak hardwood, red oak plywood, and birch plywood.  Time to add some natural color and interesting grain to my repertoire.

First – the big board of the trip, a nice piece of birdseye maple:

birdseye1  birdseye2

Some 8/4 and 4/4 walnut pieces:


A nice wide piece of purpleheart:


And finally a very orange board of paduak:


All of these pieces will contribute in some way, shape, or form to various Christmas gifts.  Unfortunately, these gifts will be heading to some of the readers of this blog, so I can’t go into further detail at this time.  But fret not – I’ll make sure to take pictures for future posts.  I expect a flurry of posts to appear during that last week of December.