Updating a Hallway

The past few days, Anita and I have been working on finishing up the dining room and hallway. After I struggled to throw up the crown molding, attaching chair rail felt like childs play. The trickiest part was coping both ends at the end of the hallway.

 photo hallway1.jpg

After the chair rail was nailed up, I attached the rectangular boxes I made with my molding planes. Then Anita caulked and painted everything white on the bottom, and a light grey on top. She bought a custom rug from Pottery Barn that fits the hallway nicely. Now she plans on hanging some pictures on the wall and get a new light fixture to spruce things up. This was a cheap and easy way to make a hallway look more elegant.

 photo hallway2.jpg

Here is a close up of the faux wainscoting boxes I made. They add quite a bit of detail to the walls.

 photo hallway3.jpg

Folding Screens from 2x Material

On my last post, I tried to weather some southern yellow pine to make it look old. Well, this screen was the reason for my attempt. I made a couple of these screens for my wife as a backdrop for when she does shows. Building them was super simple. I took a 2 x 8 and ripped it to 3″ wide and ran a 3/4″ wide, 1/2″ deep rabbet down one side.

 photo 20150308_151936.jpg

I then pinned and glued fence boards and wood from an old pallet to the rabbets with some 18 gauge pneumatic nails to create the slats. The assembly is so simple that the majority of my time was milling the wood to the proper thickness.

 photo 20150308_151952.jpg

When making the second screen I decided to change the process just a little.

 photo blog 003_5.jpg

Instead of planing the 2 x material from 1 1/2″ down to 1″, I decided to re-saw the material to 1 1/8″ on my band saw instead. This saved a lot of time and a whole bunch of planer shavings. You can see the off-cuts that I had from building the second screen on top of my table saw. I’m sure my planer knives thank me for not having to plane off all this crap.

 photo blog 006_1.jpg

Unfortunately, a big obstacle when using 2 x material is sometimes after I rip the boards in half, they spring back due to their high moisture content. I try to buy straight grain boards with no pith in the middle, but sometimes that’s not good enough. You can see in the picture some of the boards that released their tension once I ripped them in half. I had more than a full 2 x 8 board of waste making these panels.

 photo blog 005_5.jpg

The day of the show, the screens did their trick. You can see one of them in the background, however, I think they would have looked better being toned down with a weathered stain. Maybe next time.

 photo bella.jpg

Repairing a Drawer Bottom

Earlier this week, my wife won a chest of drawers from an online auction. Sure enough when we get it home and examine the piece, we discovered there was significant water damage to the chest that the auction company failed to mention (what a surprise!). In fact, one of the drawers was so bad that the bottom plywood was peeling away. She asked me if I could fix it, so I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of 1/4″ X 24″ X 48″ underlayment plywood for about $5.00.

 photo drawer001.jpg

The first thing I did to the drawer was carefully pop off the glue blocks from the under side with a paring chisel as I was planning on reusing them.

 photo drawer002.jpg

I then carefully popped off the drawer runner being careful not to damage it. Fortunately, it wasn’t glued to the drawer bottom making it easy to clean up.

 photo drawer003.jpg

Then with a dead blow hammer, I gently popped off the sides of the drawers hoping not to damage the dovetail joints.

 photo drawer004.jpg

After cutting the new piece of plywood to size, I saw that the new drawer bottom was a little thicker than the original, so I widened all the grooves to the drawer with my table saw.

 photo drawer006.jpg

Once all the grooves were widened, I dry fitted the drawer back together making sure everything fitted properly.

 photo drawer012.jpg

I then glued the drawer back together including the support blocks back on the bottom.

 photo drawer013.jpg

After about a half an hours worth of work, the drawer was back in business and nicely fitted back in the piece.

 photo drawer014.jpg

Adding Cross Bars to a French Style Bookcase.

Over the past few months I’ve been making these French style bookcases for my wife. They’re pretty popular as they usually sell within a couple of weeks in her booth. The nicest part of the bookcase is the design of the cross bars that mimic the design of the Eiffel Tower. The design also makes the bookcase lighter and feel more open as opposed as having closed sides making the bookcase feel heavy.

Adding the cross bars isn’t so difficult when you take your time and measure everything correctly. When I start to build the cross bars, I rip 3/4″ square stock out on the table saw and sand them smooth on my drum-sander. I take one of the bars and clamp it to both back styles of the bookcase. I then strike a line to show me the correct angle that needs to be cut.

20140914_175028

 

I take the bar over to my old school Stanley No 140 miter box and cut it close to the line, but not on it. I could do this on a power miter saw, but I feel that’s way too much power for doing delicate work like this.

20140914_175414

After the cutting the bar on my miter box, I size it to the line by carefully trimming it with my AMT miter trimmer. I love this tool, but a miter trimmer is the Rodney Dangerfield of woodworking. For whatever reason, it simply gets absolutely no respect in the hand tool world. I guess hand tool purest would rather use a shooting board and plane, but this thing has never let me down in the twenty-five years I’ve owned it.

20140914_181649

When the bars are properly fitted, they are super tight against the styles. So much so that it is very tough to even fit them in place. Having the bars fit this tight is actually very important because they will be glued in place without any mechanical fasteners other than a 23 gauge micro pin toe nailed to the styles.

20140914_180408

Once I’m happy with the fit, I then scribe a line on each bar where the bars meet to create a half lap joint.

20140914_180757

With a dovetail saw, paring chisel, and router, I carefully remove the material between the lines. The depth of the router blade is exactly half the thickness of the bar ensuring the bars are flush to each other when they are fitted together.

20140914_181522

After the joint is cut, I test fit the pieces to make sure everything looks good. An important thing I do when installing the bars is to place witness marks on the bars and styles so that I know which direction the bars goes when it’s time for installation.

20140915_182435

The cross bars on the sides of the bookcase are done exactly the same way. When it comes to installing all the cross bars, I glue and nail them to the styles. Because I plan on painting the bookcase, I don’t care about the nail holes. I just fill them in with wood putty. I use 18 gauge pneumatic nails and nail the side cross bars from the front and back of the styles. The back cross bars, I glue and toe nail them with 23 gauge pin nails to the back styles.

 

Making a Bench from Dimensional Store Bought Lumber

When my wife Anita does shows, I’m always looking for something that I can make fairly quickly that she can sell in her booth to help pay for some of her fees. After helping her do shows over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that small benches are quite popular. They’re nice to stick out on front porches or foyers or even mud rooms. In fact, some people even use a bench as the seating for one side of their kitchen table.

10407335874_d0e82a20d0_z

I designed this bench to be made from a 2″ x 12″ and a 2″ x 8″ that are eight feet long. However, if you change the dimension of the stretcher a little bit, it could be made form a 2″ x 12″ x 10′. The only issue doing that is you need to make sure your 2″ x 12″ x 10′ is choice wood with no splits at the end of the board because you’ll need nearly every inch of it. It doesn’t matter to me because I can’t fit a ten foot board in my car anyway, so I bought a 2″ x 12″ x 8′ and 2″ x 8″ x 8′ for under $20.00.

ww001

The construction of the bench is super simple. I make the legs 9″ wide x 16″ long. I measure down 2 1/2″ from top and bottom on each side and use the lid from my garbage can to draw an arch connecting the two marks. Then I cut it off the arches on my band saw. I sanded the arches smooth on my oscillating spindle sander.

ww012

The feet are 5″ wide x 10 3/4″ long. I draw a 1″ radius on both sides and remove the material with chisels, planes and files.

I want the bench to have four feet so I take two of the pads and cut grooves in them on my table saw. Once all the grooves are cut, I remove the waste with my bench router and plane everything smooth.

When designing the stretcher, I did nearly the same thing as the legs. I measured 2 1/2″ from each side and make a mark. Then I find the stretcher center and mark 2 1/2″ off each side of the center. I swing a compass set at a 12″ radius connecting the marks creating the arches for the stretcher.

ww015

In order for the legs to attach tot the stretcher, I bored a 1″ x 4″ mortise through the legs with a 1″ forstner bit and cleaned it up with chisels. The tenons I cut on the table saw and band saw and cleaned them up with my rabbet plane.

After all the parts are sanded, I dry fitted everything together to make sure the bench looked right. I wanted the tenons to have a mechanical fastener along with the glue, so I drilled two 1/4″ holes through the side of the legs going through the tenons.

20140823_123357

I grabbed some scrap oak and split a few splitters of wood with a chisel. The pins run down the grain making them exceptionally stronger since the grain follows the strength of the wood. I sized the pins by punching them through my Lie-Nielsen dowel plate. I shaved the pins a little bit with my spoke shave so they would start to fit through the 1/4″ hole of the dowel plate. Once the pin starts to fit in the hole, I pound the hell out of it.

20140823_123402

After I was satisfied with the way the bench stretcher fitted to the legs, I started gluing and screwing everything together, I placed glue of the pins and inserted them into the tenons of the bench. I didn’t bother draw boring the holes of the tenon. I was already satisfied with the tightness of the joint.

20140825_171145

The bench was painted a duck egg blue and waxed over top. The next bench I make will probably be a different color. Maybe a black or grey as neutrals are always popular.

20140825_170758

You can see the detail of the top where the scrub plane left little ridges in the wood giving the bench a bit of detail. It definitely looks better than having a plain board for the seat of the bench.

 

Making a Serving Tray

 

My wife wanted me to make a serving tray with splayed sides for her. She had a similar one she bought, but wanted to know if whipping up another one for her was doable. I didn’t think it would take too long so I accepted the challenge. I thought all I had to do was cut four boards with 15 degree angles on each end, attach them together and lay some slats down the middle. Boy was I wrong!

I started by milling up the stock by ripping a 2 x 8 length ways in half on the table saw and planed the wood to 1/2″ with my surface planer. After the stock was milled, I left them alone for a few days to let them acclimate in my shop.

20140601_132821

The toughest part about making a serving tray with splayed sides is calculating the compound angles of the sides. When I first looked at the tray, it seemed like if I simply cut a couple of boards at 90 degrees with a 15 degree angle on each end, it would work, but it won’t. I’m no math teacher so I can’t technically explain the geometry that is at work here, but when the sides are splayed to 15 degrees, it changes the end cut by just a few degrees. If I took my bevel and laid it on the outside of the tray and compared it to my try square, you can see the slight difference. I guess another way to look at the geometry is if you cut a cone in half at 15 degrees then look down at the part that had just been cut off, the shape wouldn’t be a circle, but a slight ellipse.

Trying to find the correct compound angle to cut the sides is simple if you know the trick. It starts with a piece of scrap wood with 15 degree angles cut on one side and one end. This piece will now be a jig to use to set up the miter gauge and saw blade.

20140601_140651

With the jig on it’s face, place it against the saw blade and swing the blade to match up with the other 15 degree angle. Now take your miter gauge and set it to the angle of the wood. Presto, there’s your compound angle.

20140601_140709.JPG

 

When cutting the parts you need to do like Roy Underhill and “keep your mind clear of impure thoughts.” It can get quite complicated figuring out which side of the blade you need cut your part on so that the two sides of the tray line up to 90 degrees. Testing on scrap pieces until you get the right cut is highly recommended. It took me nearly 30-45 minutes to figure it out.

20140601_143336

Ah, the pieces fit nicely and are square to one another.

20140601_143443

After the sides were cut I needed to cut a couple of handle holes which was no big deal. I used 3/4″ forstner bit and drilled five holes. Then I cleaned up between the holes with a paring chisel and rasps. Then I routed the top of the four sides with a 1/4″ round over bit.

20140601_154331(1)

I glued and pinned the sides together with pneumatic nails. Then I attached thin strips to the sides so that I could attach the slats.

20140601_161505

I milled up sixteen slats 1 1/2″ wide with 15 degree angles cut on both ends. The two slats at each end of the tray had a 15 degree angle cut down one side to fit snuggly against the side. After lying all the slats to one side, I measured the gap that was left. The total was 11 1/4″. With fifteen spaces between the slats, that would give me 3/4″ of space between each slat.

The dry fit worked well so now it’s time for the finish. I finished all the slats before attaching them to the tray because it would be a lot easier to apply finish that way. I started by dying the parts with walnut wood dye. This gave the wood an even darker tone and took a lot of the yellow coloring out of the pine.

20140608_185352

Next, I painted the parts with grey milk paint and let it dry for a few hours.

20140609_163302

After the milk paint dried, I mixed up a batch of paste wax. I used an Ebony colored wax, mixed it with a Clear wax so the color wouldn’t be so strong and applied a coat to all the parts. When I wiped off the excess, I glued and nailed the slats into place completing the tray. The wax colored the wood so dark that the pine looks like walnut now. My wife loves it! This tray could be used as a center piece on a dining room table or even hung on the wall in a kitchen as a piece of art.

Restoring a Potting Table

I bought this table last year at a flea market for $4.00. Missing the drawer, the guy selling it considered throwing the table away as he thought it wasn’t worth much. At the last minute, he decided to bring it to the flea market and see if anyone would buy it. Well I guess I was the sucker because I whipped open my wallet and handed him four crisp one dollar bills for it.

I’m not quite sure if the table was built with the two bins in it or if it was retrofitted later on with them. In any event, I decided to keep them and see if I could bring the table back to life.

blog

Other than missing a drawer, the real big problem with the table was that there was a piece missing off the front near the leg where the dowel joints failed. I shaved away the roughness of the front with a rasp so that I could attach a new piece of wood to it.

blog

Once I carved out a new piece out of poplar, I glued everything together. I’m by no means a carver, but I was satisfied with the end result. I knew the table would eventually be painted so it wasn’t a big deal if the moldings didn’t match up perfectly.

Next I had to make a new drawer. I grabbed some more poplar and traced out the front of drawer by mirroring the shape of the back of the table. I also had to shape the contour of the front to match the curve of the front of the table. I did everything on the band saw and smoothed the wood with rasps and sandpaper.

blog

Back to more carving. I used my carving chisels and scooped out the front to match the curvature of the molding. I then used my Dremel and carved a 1/16″ groove down the front to match the groove of the molding. It took about an hour to do all the carving.

blog

Deciding how to attach the drawer front to the sides of the drawer, I opted to simply use a stopped rabbet joint and pin the sides to the front. I considered using a router bit and my router table to cut the stopped rabbets, but I figured I could cut them by hand just a s quick. I used my marking knife and scored the fibers of the wood where I wanted the rabbet to be. Then I very carefully pared away the wood with a chisel. Once I got so deep, it became easier to remove the waste without damaging the drawer front. It was very similar to chopping out the waste on the side of a tenon.

blog

The drawer was built using 1/2″ poplar and 1/4″ plywood for the bottom. The biggest deal with making a drawer is making sure the thing is square. Having a drawer shaped like a rhombus is just asking for trouble.

blog

The running stick was still in the table so I had to make a new runner for it. Whipping one up on the table saw and fastening to the table was no big deal. In order for the drawer to run properly, I used double stick tape and fastened to the runner to make sure it was in the right spot. Once the drawer fitted perfectly, I glued the runner to the bottom of the drawer.

A few hours in the shop and the new drawer fits nicely in the table.

blog

The table had some water damage to the top which caused the veneer to chip and break away. Making a new top for the table didn’t appeal to me, so I tried and out-of-the-box approach. I mixed up a batch of auto body filler and spread it over the top where it was missing the veneer and left it to dry.

blog

I did this step outside because the body filler stinks to high heaven. After the Bondo dried, I sanded the high spots with 80 and 150 grit sandpaper.

Here’s the finished table with a few coats of paint. My wife Anita painted it and sanded through the coats to give the table a worn look. I don’t think the table turned out too shabby considering I only paid $4.00 for it.

Why my Wife Hates Woodworking Magazines

I received the latest issue of a major woodworking magazine a few days ago and my wife Anita was flipping through it. She came across an article about making a cabinet that hid a high end mixer and in disgust, threw the magazine down and said “why would anyone make this piece of shit?” For years she’s been telling me that the projects in these woodworking magazines I subscribe to often have articles with outdated projects that were only popular in the 1980’s. I never really thought about it until she said that.

She does have a point. The writer of the article wrote that the “appliance garage acts like a cabinet effectively cloaking an unsightly blender.” I don’t know about anyone else, but my wife prizes her Kitchen Aid mixer. She would never even think about hiding it on her countertop. If anything, she would highlight it.

Don’t get me wrong, not all the projects in the woodworking magazines I get are outdated, but it does seem sometimes the furniture that are featured would look nice in my Grandma’s house. So much so, that when I look for designs of furniture that hip and popular, I often look at design magazines. Below is the latest issue of Country Living. When flipping through it, I came across several pieces of furniture that would appeal to a younger generation and would be fun to build.

ebay 012

Here’s a nice deck lounge chair that looks like it would fit nicely on a cruise ship. The chair would be made out of weather resistant wood and would be a challenge to build with all the hinging and sculpted parts. This chair would look real nice on the cover of a woodworking magazine.

Here’s a simple bench made from reclaimed wood. These types of benches are real hot right now in the marketplace. In fact, anything made from reclaimed wood is hot. It’s hard to even find old barn wood on Craigslist in my area and when I do, the owner wants a premium for the wood. A project like this could be tackled in a weekend and would be a real hit with young women.

The real nice piece for me in the magazine is this architect’s desk that these ladies are sitting at. The wood looks to be made from stained maple or birch and apparently has some wrought iron hardware on it. It would be hard to draw a plan from this little photo, but it could be done. If a woodworking magazine featured this desk on their cover I bet it would be a hit.

These are just a few examples of the many furniture that are in these design magazines. If you have time, go to your local bookstore, grab a cup of coffee and browse through some of them looking for ideas. You may be surprised what inspires you. By the way, take a look at what is on the counter in the background on the cover of the Country Living magazine.

What Do You Think of this Style of Furniture?

Having a woodworking blog, I know that a lot of people who follow me are also woodworkers. And if I know woodworkers, it is that they love wood grain. So much so, that the whole idea of painting a piece of furniture that they make is often considered sacrilegious. However, I also know that many women who usually buy furniture for their home would rather have a piece of furniture that goes with their décor. Beautiful wood grain is something many of them don’t even think about when picking out a piece. So I decided to do a little nonscientific poll to see what people think of the following piece of furniture.

This is a buffet my wife bought at an auction. She wanted to paint the base, but leave the top a natural wood tone. She sanded the top and oiled it with hemp oil. Some people call this type of furniture restyle Shabby Chic. I’m not sure if this is technically Shabby Chic or French Country or whatever. My wife calls it Elegant Farm House style.

Below you can see some of the detail of the wood after it’s been painted. To me, the architectural details of the moldings stick out a little more and are not muddled in the wood grain when the piece has been distressed. But what do you think?

http://i1207.photobucket.com/albums/bb475/mvflaim/buffet-1.jpg?t=1396789538

Please feel free to Share this post. The more people who see it and vote, the better.

Making a Farm House Table

My wife Anita was getting ready for a design show she was doing called Over the Moon in Lawrenceburg, IN. She asked me to make a farm house table from basic 2 x 8’s I bought from Lowe’s. So I bought the wood and laid out the boards on the floor to see how big of a table she wanted. We ended up deciding on a table that was around 3′ x 5′.

When I bought the lumber, I chose boards with the straightest grain possible with very little or no knots. However, most of the boards I chose were still high in moisture content so I had to let them acclimate in my shop so they could dry out a little bit.

After milling the boards to one inch thick, I stickered them on the floor and placed a fan near them to help the boards dry out a bit. I placed weights on the top board just to prevent it from cupping. The paper towel underneath the weight is to prevent the iron of the weight staining the wood.

After about a week, the boards were down to a workable moisture content. You wouldn’t think that simply laying boards down for a week would change the moisture content that much, but it did.

Anita already bought legs at an antique show back in the fall for about $10.00. All I had to do was make the frame and top and assemble it all together. I used a 3/8″ beading molding plane to put a bead on the sides of the table to give it a bit of detail.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. I used pocket screws to attach everything together. The idea of a farm table is keep the joinery simple.

Anita stained the top with gel stain and painted the base with chalk paint. The table was too wide to get through my basement door so I had to finish it in the living room.

I asked Anita if she wanted me to attach the boards from the bottom so the fasteners wouldn’t show. She told me no. She said “just screw down the boards and fill in the holes with plugs”. So I did just that leaving about a 1/8″ gap between the boards for expansion and contraction of the wood. After I was done, Anita sanded the top again with 220 grit sand paper and reapplied some more stain.

This is how the table looked when it was done and ready for the show. Anita applied a dark wax to the paint to highlight the details of the legs. She also waxed the top to give it some luster.

You can see some of the dark wax detail here.

Anita posted this picture of the table on her Facebook account right before the show started. One of her followers saw the picture and private messaged her asking Anita to hold the table, however Anita never saw her message. When the show opened, the young woman ran to her booth and asked if the table was still available. Anita said it was and the woman bought it right on the spot. It’s nice to know someone likes my work. haha.