Resizing another Shelving Unit

I was in the process of building another shelving unit for my wife’s new booth in Milford, Ohio. She originally asked me to build it four feet long. However, once I started to attach the shelves to the unit, she wasn’t too thrilled with the overall dimensions. I asked if she wanted it cut down to 36″ long instead of 48″, but she was afraid that it would be too much work. I assured her that I could cut it down without much problem.

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I slapped the unit on top of my workbench and carefully measured where the rails were to be cut. I then grabbed my Festool plunge saw and rail system, clamped it to the lines and ran down the rail cutting as deep the blade would go.

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I then flipped the unit off the bench and cut the two attached shelves in half.

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After one side was free, I unscrewed the pocket holes and broke away the rails with a hammer. I then cleaned the side up with a random orbital sander.

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I then flipped the other side of the unit back onto the bench and re-drilled the pocket holes to the shortened rails. For the two shelves that already had plywood nailed in place, I had to bust out the plywood with a hammer.

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After about twenty minutes, the shelving unit came back together a foot shorter. I cut the remaining plywood to the new measurements and installed them using cleats on the inside of the rails.

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Now it was time for the antique shutters to be screwed onto the sides.

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After a coat of black paint, the shelving unit looks really nice in her new booth.

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CET Action Auction

It’s that time of year again. Time for my local PBS station to hold their Action Auction where they auction off a bunch of items from donors around the Cincinnati area. Nearly every year I donate a shaker style table to them. The first few years, I made these tables out of nice cherry, however, the past couple of years I decided to build them with southern yellow pine to save on the costs. I make these tables out of a single 2 x 8 x 8 I buy from Lowes for around $6.00. I wrote a blog about it a few months ago. http://wp.me/p1gfza-d2

I painted the table using chalk paint which is a limestone based paint that is popular among people who repurpose and paint antique furniture. The paint leaves a chalky feel on the surface and with a bit of sanding, gives the piece an aged look. My wife, Anita, stenciled the lettering on for me to give the table a little bit something extra.

As you can see, the joinery is extremely simple. The stretchers on the top and bottom of the drawers have mortise and tenon as well as dovetail joinery, but the sides are simply pocket screwed together. The table is not going to be under a tremendous amount of stress so I opted not to mortise and tenon the sides to the legs in order to save time.

The custom work is left for the drawers. They are put together with hand cut half blind dovetails, but you can’t really tell since the sides are painted. I probably spend more time cutting those dovetails than I do on the rest of the piece.

It’s a simple piece that will be a nice little accent table in someone’s living room or foyer. The Action Auction takes place in a couple of weeks and my table will be auctioned off sometime during the weekend. The table should do well since painted black furniture is really popular right now. Anytime I make a bookcase for my wife so that she can sell it in her booth, it sells within a week. All I know is that it’s fun to see my furniture on TV.  I really don’t get anything out of it other than a good feeling from helping out my local PBS station that continues to keep The Woodwright’s Shop on the air.

The importance of making a prototype

So I was hired to make a case for this thing. It’s a custom-made electric guitar amplifier. The guy who made it has no woodworking ability and was looking for someone to make a case for him. He really didn’t care how it was made, just so that the inner components could be taken out and put back in if need be.

I’ve never made an amplifier case before and wasn’t sure how to design one with a removable back so I knew that making a prototype would be a must. Scrounging around in my shop I looked for old pieces of scrap plywood and off cuts of hardwood. I gathered up some wood and made a simple box put together with pneumatic staples and drywall screws.

The idea for a removable back was simple. Screw on the top and route grooves down the side so that the back could slide up and out-of-the-way. The prototype worked and was easy to make which is what I was after because I wasn’t making a killing on the box anyway. More of a favor for my stepson’s friend.

Now it was time for the real deal which was easy because I already knew how to make it and already made my mistakes on the prototype. Anytime I make something, it’s usually the first time I make it. As I measure and cut and drill, I inevitably make a mistake or two. I often find out that the second time I make something, that I learned from my mistakes on the first one and make the second one so much better. It’s one of the reasons I cringe when people ask me to do commission work. I’d much rather have a product line of pieces that I already know how to build and build quickly.

I made the amplifier out of hardwood cherry and maple plywood for the front and back. It came out flawless! The only real differences I made between this and the prototype is I rounded over the edges to give it a better look, added a piece of wood to the sides so that I could move the screws that hold down the top away from the edges so they wouldn’t interfere with the round overs and eliminated the vent holes on the back panel.

The good thing was making the prototype only took about an hour but it saved me so much time and material working out some of the bugs in the design process. Plus I screwed up on the cheap throw away wood instead of ruining the nice expensive stuff.

Since when do woodworkers buy furniture from other woodworkers?

I have to admit, I’d never thought that a woodworker would buy a piece of handmade furniture from another woodworker. After all we’re woodworkers, we could just easily make it ourselves. But what has happened over the past few months has changed my opinion.

It started a couple of years ago when I made four Shaker side tables out of cherry. I had plans of listing them on Etsy and turning a handsome profit. At first it seemed easy with a sale within the first week. The problem was that the person who had “bought” the table was a scammer trying to pull some over payment cashiers check trick and then have me send him the difference back. Luckily Etsy saw the scam and cancelled the transaction.

I had the tables out on Etsy for a few months with no other bites so I decided to delist them. I was them stumped as to what to do with them so I had the idea of donating one to my local PBS station’s Action Auction. The auction went well and I had my table on TV for several minutes as well as MVFlaim Furnituremaker listed on the PBS station’s website. So, the next year I decided to do it again. Even though I didn’t get any money for them, I felt good about the exposure and helping out my local PBS station with the donation.

Then last summer I got a call from one of the people who had won the auction for one of the tables. They wanted another one! So I gave them a price and went over to their house to deliver it. I met with the woman’s husband and he started talking about woodworking and took me out to his shop. I looked around in his shop in confusion. The man obviously had a nice set up. Nice enough to be able to build the table himself. Why was he buying mine? I asked him why and he told me that while he dabbles in woodworking, he doesn’t possess the skills that I have to build the table as nice as I did. I was extremely flattered by that.

Three tables down one to go. My wife decided to stick the last one in our spare bedroom and use it for a few months. It looked nice but didn’t quite match the French country decor she was going after so she listed it on Craigslist. A couple of days ago a guy called and asked if he could have it for a certain price. My wife and I agreed to the offer and told him to come pick it up. The man came to the house, introduced himself and started asking about what type of joinery I used to build the table. I couldn’t believe it. Another woodworker! Here’s another guy who would rather buy a nice handmade table than make himself. What is going on? He told me that he spends all his time at work and really doesn’t have time to build things he wants but appreciates nice furniture when he sees it. He even told me that he went down to Tennessee to Lonnie Bird’s school to take his Dovetailing class a few years ago so he definitely had a passion for woodworking.

All I know is that I learned something new today. Even though people possess the skill to build something themselves, they’ll still pay a fair price for the work of others. I didn’t get rich from the sale of the tables. In fact, I barely got my money back from the cost of the wood, but it still felt good helping out my local PBS station the past couple of years and meeting new friends.

Making a Bed Part 3

Well it’s been a tough few days with my dog Rylee passing away but I finally pulled myself together and put the finish on the bed.

After sanding the parts to 220 grit sandpaper, I applied a Brown Walnut analine dye to the bed. I diluted the dye to a 4:1 distilled water:dye solution and applied a liberal amount to the bed with a sponge wiping off the excess. I’ve been told to use distilled water instead of tap water because the minerals in tap water may change the color of the dye.

The dye turns all the wood to a uniform color creating a base for the gel stain that will cover it. After I washed the bed with the dye, it looked like I grabbed a handful of mud and smeared it all over the place but I realized it’s just the first step in the process.

After the dye dried, I needed to coat the bed with de-waxed shellac so that the gel stain won’t penetrate the wood too much making the wood appear blotchy. I create my own 2 lb cut shellac by diluting 4 ounces of shellac flakes to 16 ounces of denatured alcohol. I keep the shellac in an empty glass maple syrup container.

 

Once the shellac is applied, the bed turned darker but was still nowhere the color I wanted it be. My wife came downstairs to look at the progress I was making and told me she hated the way it looked. I told her not to worry as I was only half way done.

Allowing the shellac to dry overnight, I was ready to apply my first coat of stain. I used one coat of General Finishes Nutmeg Gel Stain applying it with a piece of an old t-shirt and wiping off the excess with another piece of old t-shirt. I used a dry paint brush and brushed away any swirl marks left by the t-shirts. Fortunately the bed started to take on a brownish color removing the mud look after I applied the stain .

For the next color I used Minwax Rosewood Gel Stain but before I applied it, I coated the bed with another coat of shellac so that the new color won’t affect the nutmeg color giving the finish more depth.

Now the bed has the reddish hue color I’m looking for. All that is left to do is apply the top coat with Arm-R Seal polyurethane oil combo. Three coats of the Arm-R-Seal coat and a lightl sanding of 600 grit sandpaper and parrafin oil, the bed was ready to be put back together.

The bed is finally done and I was pleased with the outcome. It took me longer than the month I promised my wife but she was fine with the delay. I forget how much the bed actually cost me to build since I threw away the receipts, but if I believe it was around $300-$400. A far cry from the $1699 Pottery Barn wanted for their bed. Now to take it apart again and drag it upstairs.