Ash Display Cabinet

The ash display cabinet I’ve been building for Anita is finally done. Took longer than I wanted but, working full time, restoring and selling antique tools, and doing honey-do lists around the house has eaten up all of my time. Anita will eventually put handles on the doors once she figures out which ones she wants, but for the most part, it’s done.

The cabinet is 48″ x 66″ x 16″ and is the first piece of furniture I made without using a single piece of plywood. I would have at least liked to have made the shelves out of 3/4″ plywood but my lumber supplier doesn’t carry it. The piece is extremely heavy and cost me about $500 to build. But, it’s still way cheaper than the $1600 price tag that was on the one at Pottery Barn. Plus, this is made from American hardwood and not some junky looking Chinese lumber.

To help speed up the build, I went out and bought a Festool Domino. I waited ten years to buy one until the day I could afford it, but that day never came. So, I bit the bullet and bought the tool as well as the Domino kit with the extra drill bits. So far, I love the tool. I was told by the sales rep at the store that you set the tool on the first setting one one side of the board, then switch to the second setting for the other side of the board. The wider slot gives you a little bit of play when aligning the boards similar to using a biscuit joiner.

I used the machine for the case as well as the joinery on the glass doors and it performed wonderfully. The Domino is one of those tools you wished you would have bought sooner.

The other thing I did differently on the piece versus others I have built was to put feet on the cabinet. In years past, when I built something, the sides of the case would be the feet of piece of furniture but, after studying antiques over the years, I noticed that the well built pieces would have feet glued to the bottom. This helps protect the sides by lifting them off the floor by a 1/16″. Having square feet also makes sticking furniture pads on the bottom a lot easier.

I already wrote about the wooden shelf supports a few weeks ago here. They work exceptionally well and can hold a massive amount of ironstone. I can’t even imagine all that weight on little brass pins.

Anita loves the cabinet, I love the cabinet, her friends love the cabinet, people on Instagram love the cabinet. It’s been a big hit and the money I saved building it, paid for my Festool Domino.. (see what I did there?)

Board and Batten Bedroom

Over the past few weekends, Anita and I have been busy updating our spare bedroom. We use the room as our home office but even that is a stretch since the only thing in there is our printer and WIFI cable box. We don’t even have a desk in the room so it’s been more of a holding area for the antiques she sells online and a table for packaging things up to ship.

She got tired of the drabby feel of the room and wanted to give it some style so she asked me if I could cut up some wood for board and batten trim work. I went out and bought two sheets of 1/4″ mdf and ripped 4″ wide slats for the top of the trim. We nailed the top boards about 5 feet from the floor.

Next I ripped 3″ wide slats and nailed two of them next to eachother in all four corners of the room. I knew the fit in the middle wasn’t going to be perfect due to the bow of the wall so, the gap in the middle was going to have to be filled with caulk.

Playing around with painters tape, we calculated the spacing in between the slats. We took the measurement between the two slats in the corner, minus the 3″ per slat and divided by the number of slats we wanted on the wall. It took a little bit of time to figure out how many slats per wall looked the best, but in the end, the slats on each wall were around 18″-22″ apart. Obviously, each wall had it’s own measurement so no two walls were the same. On a couple of walls, we had to fudge number a little bit so that the slat would miss an electrical outlet but, your eye will never see the difference.

After the slats were nailed up, I ripped some pine 1/2″ thick x 3/4″ wide and nailed a ledge on top of the top board. This finished off the trim with a nice clean look. We played around with molding at Home Depot trying to determine which molding would look the best, but in the end, simpler was better.

Once all the nail holes were filled, everything was lightly sanded. Then Anita caulked and painted the bottom of the walls an off white color.

She decided on a color called Carbon Copy for the top and applied a couple coats to the top side of the wall. The room has a lot more style now and it only took about $200 in material and paint to do. Now we finally have an office that looks like an office, except we still don’t have a desk or any other office furniture.

Shelf Support Brackets

The past few weeks I’ve been building a display cabinet for my wife out of ash. Things have been going well with the build and when it came to adding a way to hold the adjustable shelves, I wanted to use an old method that I’ve seen numerous times on antique furniture.

It starts with a couple of pieces of 1 1/2″ wide wood laying out 1″ diamter holes down the middle. The holes are 3″ apart on center. I taped the two pieces together so that when the holes are bored, the pieces mirror eachother.

I then ripped the pieces apart in the middle giving me four brackets that are similar to one another. I then installed each piece in the corner of the cabinet with glue and a few 23 gauge pins. This gives me perfect alignment when I install the shelf brackets.

The brackets are nothing more than a 1″ wide ash with a roundover on each end. I decide to add another 1″ piece of wood onto the stretcher. This gives me the opportunity to adjust the height of the shelf inside the cabinet by one inch. It’s helpful if the shelf needs to be a little bit higher, but I don’t want to move the stretcher three inches to the next notch.

Overall, I love the look of the wooden shelf dividers. I’ve done the 1/4″ holes drilled up and down the sides with brass pins for years and was never a big fan of them. To me, this looks a bit more authentic.

Soupin’ Up a Stanley Surform File

Last weekend I bought this Stanley No 296 Surform File at a local antique show. When I first got into woodworking, I would use these things to round over boards when making wooden sailfish and ducks in junior high shop class. I hadn’t used one in years but for $5.00, I figured I’d play with one again.

I hated the handles so I grabbed a piece of 2″ square cherry and turned a new knob. The diameter of the knob is a little bit bigger than the original, but I had to keep the base the same diameter so it would sit it the recess of the body.

I then grabbed 1″ thick cherry and used an old Stanley tote as a template for the new handle. I then cut it out on the band saw and shaped it smooth with my oscillating spindle sander.

I then shaped it round with chisels, rasps, and files. I could have used a 1/2″ round over router bit but then again, I could also have cut it out with CNC machinery like most modern tool makers. The rasps and files worked just fine.

I drilled a couple of holes underneath to fit on top of the fitted body. I simply used the original tote as a template of where the holes needed to be drilled.

A quick spray paint job on the aluminum body did the trick. After a few coats it was done.

After assembling the parts back together and buying a new replacement blade, the rasp looks better than ever. What’s nice about these tools is that Stanley still makes them so buying replacement blades are super easy as every hardware store sells them.

I now own the coolest surform file in Cincinnati. It was a fun little weekend project.

World’s Longest Yard Sale 2021

Last week, my wife and I spent the days traveling up and down US127 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale. It’s something we’ve down for the past seven or eight years and we have an absolute blast doing it. We get up at 4:30am and drive 150 miles to start our day in a different part of the country to see what we can find. After 1200 miles in my truck and five days of picking, this is what I came home with.

As much fun it isto pick, it’s frustrating that I can’t find as many Stanley Bailey planes that I used to. Even nice planes that are out of my budget were few and far between.

I was able to find a couple of good deals on miter boxes. One is my favorite Stanley No 150. It’s great little miter box for cutting wood that too small to cut with a powered miter saw. The other is a Miller’s Falls No 70 miter box along with a Disston saw. Both will take some time to restore but I’ll eventually get it done.

I also picked up a blacksmith post vise. The price was too good to pass up. The jaws are a touch small at 3 1/2″ wide but it’s a perfect size for a woodworker who needs to do a little metal working from time to time.

The other things I picked up were some large jaw Bessey clamps for $8.00 each. (I couldn’t whip out my wallet fast enough). Then, I found some old Fine Woodworking magazines and old testbook for a few bucks. One thing that’s great about woodworking is that the old books and magazines are still relevant because wood is wood and steal is steal. Been that way for thousands of years and it’ll be that way for a thousand more.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchases, I’m just getting a litttle nervous about not finding any decent tools on the yard sale anymore. I know damn well I haven’t bought them all.

The Coolest Little Tape Measure I didn’t see Coming

A few years ago, Stanley introduced a commerative tape measure to celebrate their 175th anniversery. The tape measure was sold at Menards and independent hardware stores for about $8.00.

For one reason or another, the market took off and collectors were buying them up as fast as they could. Stores ran out of stock and prices shot up to $60.00 each on eBay. There was even a guy who was making custom leather pouches for the rule. It got so bad that well known woodworking bloggers were posting websites where you can still buy the tape measure for around $10.00

A year later, after the rage went down, Menards got more stock in but end up having to clearance them out for $5.99.

I bought one when they first came out and started to use it. It’s a nice rule but unfortunately it has no tape lock which sucks. But wouldn’t you know it, the bugger is really handy. We keep it laying around our house and it’s the first tape measure we grab when looking for something to measure. Plus, it’s easy to keep in my pocket when we’re out and about. The nice thing about its design is that it blends into our decor and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. We just have the rule laying around the house. Which picture below looks nicer?

You can still buy the tape measure on eBay for a reasonable price. If you need something that’s handy to have around the house, buy it. You won’t regret it.

Dowel Joiner from the 1980’s

Many years ago, I went to The Woodworking Show in Columbus, Ohio and bought this Dowel Crafter jig after seeing it being demonstrated.

I can count on my hand how many times I used it over the decades. There’s really nothing wrong with it, I just never got excited about dowel joinery.

The concept is simple. You draw a line on two mating boards and use it as a guide for the jig. You mark one piece “X”and the other piece “O”.

You then line up your mark with one of the alphabet letters on the jig and clamp it down. Then you flip it over and drill your holes through the circular black guides. The two guides spin and lock in place with a nut depending on how big of a dowel you’re using. Once you drill your “X” hole you repeat the process for the “O” hole.

You now have four holes that correspond with eachother. Next you can either use dowels or in my case, make a dowel with my Stanley No77 Dowel Making machine. I then cut the dowels and punch them through my Lie Nielsen Dowel Plate so they are the perfect diameter. When sticking them in the holes, they line up perfectly, giving me a nice tight fitting and strong joint.

This jig can also make dowelled miter cuts but you have to do it bass-ackwards. You first take your two pieces and mark your line. Then you drill your holes just as before. The jig had plastic 90 degree dowels you could buy as a kit. You can see how many plastic dowels I have used over the past 35 years.

After the holes are drilled, you cut your 45’s on the miter box and glue them together. The joint is remarkably strong. By far the strongest miter joint I’ve ever made.

You can buy this jig on eBay for about $20 but good luck finding the 90 degree plastic dowels. I love using this jig so much that I went out and bought a Festool Domino. Go figure. I hate dowel joints!

The Broken Drop Leaf Table

Last weekend while I was repairing the oak dresser we bought at the Springfield Extravaganza, I was working on this drop leaf table as well. The table was in bad shape with both drop leafs broken off. We bought the table to use in Anita’s booth so all I had to do was remove the two swing out legs and make it presentable.

I flipped the table over and started to unscrew all the hinges that were attached to the top and sides. Then I popped off the extra pieces of wood so that the sides would be one single piece of wood.

Taking all the hardware off, I made sure that I saved it all in case I need it for another project or even sell on eBay. If I sell the hardware, it will help offset some of the cost of the buying the table. If I’m lucky, I’ll sell it for enough to make the table free.

After a few minutes, the table was in good useable condition.

Anita bleached the wood so it would be lighter in color and stuck it in her booth. No paint this time. Really simple project and it makes her booth look nicer.

New Life to a Beaten Up Dresser

My wife, Anita, and I went to the Springfield Extravaganza Antique Show last weekend looking for some things to buy. Me, it’s always antique tools, and for her, it’s modern farmhouse decor items for her to sell. We bought this old beat up five panel oak dresser for $20. For some reason during its life, the legs were cut off to make it shorter. The problem with that is it made the bottom drawer completely useless.

So, once we got it home, I took a look at it and saw that the bottom drawer was trashed so I took it over to my fire pit to burn. I did take the wooden knobs off the drawer just in case we could use them someday.

I knew I wanted the dresser to have legs again, so I took my sawzall and cut out the panels on the sides and back and then removed all the wood in the grooves.

Since the panels I cut out were already the perfect thickness, I ripped them into thin strips and used them to fill the gaps. A few clamps and glue did the trick.

After the glue dried, I trimmed and sanded the legs and threw the dresser upright. Boom! Now the dresser had legs again and didn’t look so pathetic. I then worked on the drawers to make sure they opened and closed well. I even rubbed paraffin wax on the bottoms of the drawers to make them slide easier. After a little bit of work, this dresser was useable again.

Now the part you hate! Anita painted the dresser white with milk paint and turned into a piece of shabby chic furniture. You may hate it, but some farmhouse decor lady will love it.

Pennsylvania Secretary

I built this Pennsylvania Secretary back in 2004. It was an article in Fine Woodworking Magazine by Ronnie Bird. I fell in love with the idea of making a piece as complicated as this with it’s intrical cubbies and drawers.

The door panels and desk lid were all sliced from a single piece of 2″ thick walnut. I sliced the wood by hand with my hand saw because the 13″ width of the wood was too wide for my band saw that could only rip stock 12″ wide. I remember it being a major pain the ass.

I used a bread board edge on the lid so that it wouldn’t warp. The joint works well because seventeen years later, the lid is still perfectly flat.

I cut the curvature of the drawers on a band saw and smoothed them with my oscillating drum sander. The panel on the small door was a piece of crotch walnut.

There are a few hidden compartments inside the desk where I kept my silver dollar coins that my Mom gave me before she passed away. The columns slide open to keep important documents but I never stored anything in them.

The drawer fronts were sliced from a single piece of curly walnut that I laminated onto a walnut substrate for each drawer. I cut the cabriolet feet on the band saw and then glued each side together.

The lid opens up to act as a working desk but it actually sucks as a desk. The lid is too high off the ground for my liking.

I built the sides and case with 7/8″ thick walnut with red oak secondary wood. I used red oak because I had a boatload of it when I bought a bundle of it from the company I used to work for. They sold it as oak fence boards so the quality of the wood was not the best. I didn’t care because it was seconday wood but it made the piece extremely heavy. I should have used white pine or poplar instead.

I used plywood on the back and drawer bottoms because the expense of making it was getting out of hand. I paid over $600 for all of the brass hardware and the walnut cost me over $800.

As nice as this piece is, it’s been used as a junk drawer all these years as we just store a bunch of crap in it. I used to store my cd collection in the top cabinet but I sold a lot of them a few years ago on half.com when I was uploading my collection into a digital format.

The secretary has been sitting in our garage ever since we got hit with the tornado last year. After the tornado, we had to take all of our furniture out of the house and into pods in our driveway while our house was being put back together. When everything was done, we never brought it back into the house because it’s too big and heavy to move.

I currently have it for sale on Facebook Marketplace for $1800 but I’ll be surprised if anyone buys it. It’s not an antique so it doesn’t have any value in that way and no one buys big pieces of furniture like this anymore. I may have to donate it or just keep it in the garage.

The secretary was fun to make, but I wouldn’t make it again. All it’s good for is to take pictures and show people “look what I made.”

UPDATE 7-16-21. After zero bites on Marketplace for weeks, I lowered to $500. We’ll see if it sells.

UPDATE 8-20-21 it never sold.