Making an Apothecary Cabinet Drawer

My wife bought an apothecary cabinet that was missing one of its drawers. I took a look at how they were built and assured her that I could make another one. The drawer was about 6 1/2″ tall x 8″ wide x 7 1/2″ deep.

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The drawers are made of pine so I grabbed a scrap 2 x 8 and drew a couple of lines down the edges. The side of the drawers were about 3/8″ thick, while the drawer front was 3/4″ thick.

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I took each piece and cut kerfs down the lengths of their edges making it much easier to rip them off at the band saw. This saves the band saw’s blade and motor as it won’t have to strain as much.

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After they were ripped on the band saw, I took them over to the planer and sized them up to proper thickness.

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I made the drawer bottom out of mostly quarter sawn pine, so it wouldn’t expand and contract as much with changes in humidity. It too was about 3/8″ thick.

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Focusing on the front, I cut a 3/8″ x 3/8″ rabbet on each end the same thickness as the sides of the drawer.

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I then used my little Record plow plane and planed a 1/4″ groove down the sides and front boards that started about 7/16″ up from the bottom. This way the 3/8″ thick bottom will not rub as the drawer is being pulled in and out. You can do this step on the table saw, but I really enjoy using this little sucker.

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I cut a 3/8″ dado on each side of the drawer side so that the drawer back would fit nice and snug.

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Using my Stanley No 140 rabbet block plane, I chamfered three sides of the drawer bottom to fit inside the 1/4″ groove I plowed with my plow plane.

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Dry fitting the piece, I made sure everything fit properly and was square. The extra length of the drawer bottom and top of the back was quickly trimmed off at the table saw.

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Once everything fit well, I glued the sides and back and pinned the drawer with 18 gauge brad nails. I didn’t use any glue on the bottom as I want it to move with changes in humidity.

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After about an hour, I ended up with a nice little drawer for my wife’s apothecary cabinet. I’ll have to use vinegar and steel wool to age the pine. My wife will probably repaint the entire piece so the drawer front will match all the others.

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Harvest Table

A few moths ago my wife, Anita, and I picked up some old barn wood flooring in Dayton to be used for a harvest table she wanted me to build for her booth. While the wood sat in the basement, she kept looking for the right legs to use for the table. In the end, she opted for me to make some out of Douglas Fir 4×4’s I could buy from Lowe’s. She searched Pinterest for a leg she liked and printed off a picture so I could make it.

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I looked at the picture and started to turn something like it on the lathe. I kept the top of the leg similar to the picture, but changed the bottom to be a bit more simpler. After a few tweaks, I was happy with the end result. Now the challenge was to make three more legs that matched this one.

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I used a piece of scrap wood and marked every major location where there was a bead or valley in the board. I then used calipers to measure those increments and carefully tried to copy them to the next turning.

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After several minutes of careful turning, my second leg looked very similar to the first one on top. Even if the legs weren’t exactly the same, it was fine as they would be far enough away from one another that your eye wouldn’t be able to see the difference.

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If you’ve never turned Douglas Fir, I highly recommend it. It sucks..sucks bad. The crap chips like crazy even with sharp turning tools. Fortunately since the harvest table was suppose to look old, the chips wouldn’t be a big deal.

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After a couple of hours, I turned four legs that sort of looked like one another. The final step was to put them back on the lathe and use my parting tool to cut them at all the same length which was 30″ tall.

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The simplest part about building the harvest table was actually building it. I simply screwed the skirt onto the legs using 2″ screws. I didn’t even bother plugging the holes.

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I used cleats and pocket hole screws to keep the sides from bowing. I then attached the top onto the cleats using 1 1/4″ screws. Super simple.

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This was the table before sanding the grime off the boards.

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This is the table after a couple coats of white milk paint.

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As you can see, once sanded, the milk paint gives the table a nice worn look. Even though this table breaks three of the seven deadly sins of woodworking, it works for it’s intended purpose. Just don’t expect to see it in a woodworking magazine anytime soon. All that matters is that Anita is very happy with it and finally has the harvest table she has always wanted.

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Revamping a Dining Table

About twelve years ago I built a dining table from the plans out of Woodsmith magazine. While it served it’s purpose, it wasn’t exactly the nicest thing in the house. I made the top out of a piece of low-grade oak plywood that I bought at Home Depot. Not only that, but the table was huge being 44″ wide. My wife Anita asked if I could make a new one, or at least make a new top that was more in style. We decided that making a new top out of southern yellow pine and try weathering it making it look aged.

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The easy part was buying four 2 x 10’s, ripping them 9″ wide by six feet long and gluing them together. After they were glued, I planed the tops of the boards straight removing all the mill marks in the process.

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After the top was planed and sanded with 150 grit sandpaper, Anita applied mixture of steel wool and apple cider vinegar onto the boards to tone down the yellowness of the southern yellow pine.

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We thought it would be a good idea to stain the top while it was already on the table. I removed the original top of the table and flipped over the base onto the new top to decide how much I would need to cut the sides down.

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After messing around with the legs for a few minutes, I decide that the sides should be 24″ wide.

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I cut the sides to 24″ and rerouted the dado on both boards for the corner brackets. I then used pocket screws to re-attach the sides to the legs.

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Using metal corner brackets, I simply attached the top to the base. The new top made the table look more like a farm table.

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Anita then stained the table with Special Walnut, then Classic Gray stain from Minwax.

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Once dry, she applied hemp oil and gave the top a good waxing. She then painted the base with grey chalk paint. When done, it looked like a completely different table.

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A close up the table you can see how the southern yellow pine took on a deep rich tone. You can also see how the original black paint shows through the grey paint after Anita sanded the base a little bit. This has been one of those projects we should have done years ago.

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Weathering Pine, 2nd Attempt

Several months ago I wrote a blog about weathering pine with little success. Well, I decided to give it another try. My wife had heard of using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and steel wool to coat the wood to give it a grey finish. We heard of using regular vinegar and steel wool, but apparently, the tannins of the apple cider penetrates the fibers of the wood to give it a richer older look.

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I gave the mixture a shot on a piece of southern yellow pine and poplar to see how it would turn out. At first, the wood hardly changed at all.

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However, after twenty-four hours, you can see how the mixture turned the wood dark on both the poplar and southern yellow pine. However, even though the wood did react, my wife was looking for something that looked more grey and less muddy brown.

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I tried applying some ebony paste wax to the wood, but that didn’t turn out well at all. It just made the wood look more muddy.

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I then decided to do something a little different and burn the wood with a propane torch.

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After the wood was burnt, I used a piece of steel wool to remove the charcoal from the surface. This left the board with a texture where the early wood and late wood were at different levels.

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I was impressed by the way the wood looked and felt that I applied clear and ebony paste wax on the sample to see how each half turned out.

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I was so intrigued by this method that I flipped over the board and tried this technique on the whole board and applied the clear and ebony paste wax on each half.

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Even though I didn’t create the look my wife was looking for, I really like how the wood looks after trying this technique, especially with the clear wax top coat. I’ll have to try it out on a completed project sometime. Now only if I could figure out how to make new pine look old without leaving it outside for six months.

Roubo Style Workbench

Walking around an antique store called Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Cincinnati this weekend, I ran upon this massive beast in one of the aisles. An eight foot long authentic Roubo style workbench. I’ve seen dozens of old workbenches before, but for some reason this guy stuck out to me. The previous owner screwed nickel-plated hooks on the front of it for someone reason. Probably to hold coffee cups or some other nonsense.

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What made this bench stick out was the splay of the front leg along with the leg vise. I imagine this was done to prevent the workbench from racking when sawing. The cast iron vise hardware turned smooth and could still tighten with something with a good grip.

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It had an old planning stop hole used for planning boards. Oddly the area around the hole was all worn down. When I see wear marks on old pieces like this, it makes me wonder what type of work the craftsman did to make those types of marks. Though it does appear he was sawing on the right side of the planning stop.

Another interesting clue is that it is quite possible that at one point there was another vise installed on top. The three holes around the lighter circular area is possibly where he bolted down a machinist vise onto the bench.

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The legs were jointed together with a simple bridle joint however, the legs were not jointed into the bench’s top. More likely the top was just bolted down to the legs somehow. I didn’t feel like moving everything around in the booth to get a better look.

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The bench top was a good 12″ wide x 4″ thick piece of pine. It had a tool tray in the back that appeared to be in real good shape given it’s age. Notice how there are no bench dog nor holdfast holes in the top.

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Who knows where this bench will end up. Probably in someone’s home as a kitchen island, but for a cool $700 it can be all yours.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

Trying to Antique Pine

My wife asked me to make a new table top for this table she bought. She wanted the top to look like old worn pine with a gray tone to it. Even though I had never tried it before, I thought it should be something that I could accomplish.

The first thing I did was to buy a couple of 2 x 6’s from Lowe’s and cut them so that I could create a 30″ round table top.

I wanted the 2 x 6’s to have some strength between them. I plowed a 1/4″ channel about 3/8″ deep though all the pieces so that I could fit a piece of poplar down the middle. Looking back at it, this may have been an unnecessary step as the glue should have held the pieces together good enough anyway since they were being edge glued. To give the top a bit of character, I chamfered the boards on each side so that the top would have the look of planked boards.

This is how the planks looked right before glue up. You can see how the slightly chamfered edges gives a little bit of character to the top making it look a bit old.

The next step was to cut it to a 30″ radius. I simply set up my plunge router to a circle jig and plunged the bit down a few times to cut out the circle.

Making the top was the easy part, but now I needed to antique it. I’ve heard about using distilled vinegar and steel wool to antique wood, but I never tried it before, so I bought a bottle of vinegar and dipped a steel wool pad in jar leaving it overnight.

When I applied the mixture, the wood immediately turned a dark brown. However, after it dried overnight the wood had a purple hue to it. It also raised the grain a little bit so I hit it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the grit from the top.

Another big issue with the top, which is hard to see, is that it warped. When I was testing what type of dyes, stains or waxes to uses, I did it on the underside of the top. I think that all the oils and stain put the wood out of equilibrium causing the wood to warp. Oops!

After the vinegar/steel wool mixture dried I wanted the top to be a little darker so I applied a coat of ebony Briwax. The top took on a darker color, but a little too dark for my taste. I probably should have tried some other type of wax or added another coat of vinegar/steel wool mixture to see how that would have turned out.

Overall the top came out okay, but it wasn’t the look I was going after, plus it’s warped. When doing things I have never done before, sometimes I get it right and other times I stink it up. I think this top may be headed out as fire wood. What do you think? Where did I screw up and how can you antique pine to a grayish tone?

Sofa Table

Last fall my wife Anita and I redid our screened in porch. Since then we’ve slowly added furniture to the room but what we really need is a table to put our 20-year-old TV on. Right now the TV sits on a big clay pot with a piece of plywood on top. Not an ideal place for a TV so she asked me to build something quick to use for out there. So I designed this table which measures 56″ long x 17″ deep x 30″ tall.

Because the table will be outside, I decided to build it out of 2 x 8’s in case it gets destroyed by the weather. Plus, I really didn’t feel like spending the money on something more weather appropriate like cedar or teak. The 2 x 8’s around here are Southern Yellow Pine and if you scavenge through a pile, you can find some clean board free from knots. Once I bought the boards I let them acclimate in my shop for a couple of weeks.

Since 2 x 8’s are 7 1/4″ wide, it was a no brainer to make the sides of the table 7″. In some cases I was able to rip the boards in half on my bandsaw to yield two thinner pieces. Because the boards are a 1 1/2″ thick, cutting them in half yielded a two boards 11/16″ thick rough sawn. I kept planing those boards to 1/2″ thick and used them as the drawer stock.

I tried using the grain to my advantage as best as I could. The bottom slats only being 1/4″ thick are susceptible to warping so I cut them with quarter sawn or rift sawn wood.

Those aren’t dovetails!

What can I say, I wasn’t in the mood to cut half blind dovetails. I’ve used this pin joint in the past when I built my toolbox ten years ago. Those have held up fine over the years and these drawers are going to get minimum use so I’m not too concerned.

Anita plans on painting the piece with gray chalk paint and distress it a little to make it look old. Painted gray with some nice old style handles and this table will be a show stopper in our screened in porch. But I have a feeling a new flat screen will be on top of it instead of a 20 year old dinosaur.

Making a Roubo Style Workbench Part 1– revisited

I wrote this blog three years ago at Fine Woodworking.com and decided that I should bring it home to my blog. It’s in five parts but I will add a sixth part at the end to tell how the bench has held up. Enjoy!
It’s 2009 and I still haven’t made a new workbench I promised myself when I bought an Emmert patternmakers vise at an antique tool auction in Indianapolis last spring. After the auction I bought Workbenches by Chris Schwarz and was planning on building the Andre Roubo bench he built in the book. Then a couple of months ago, while attending  Woodworking in America Conference in Berea KY, I  saw Roy Underhill’s version of the Roubo bench and fell in love with it. The bench was solid as a rock with its back legs splayed out and it didn’t rack from side to side. Something my current bench is horrible with. Luckily there’s a write up of Roy’s Roubo bench in his new book The Woodwright’s Guide; Working Wood with Wedge & Edge. Because there were things that I liked in both benches, I decided to incorporate some of the features of both and design something that would fit my needs.
The two books that are instrumental for building the bench.
The design of the workbench. My Sketchup skills are still nonexistent so I have to design the old fashion way.

The bench will be eight feet long and made out of Southern Yellow Pine with my Emmert vise installed at the end. I’m going to try something that I’m not sure has ever been done before and build the legs and the stretchers out of pressure treated wood. I just like the idea of the added weight with pressure treated wood. Plus, I was able to buy 6×6’s for the legs and save some money verses buying more 2x stock and gluing them up to create a 5”x5” legs the way Chris does. I calculated how much material I need and bought (12) 2x10x8’s, (4) 2x12x8’s and (2) 6x6x8’s. The total cost was $132.00. Not bad considering I paid $150 for a piece of 8/4”x 8”x60” walnut when I built my Pennsylvania Secretary a few year ago.  The reason I didn’t make the entire bench out of pressure treated lumber is because ACQ lumber is very corrosive to metal. You need to use hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel fasteners when working with it. Since my vise is cast iron, it would end up corroding if I used ACQ pressure treated lumber for the top.

The lumber stickered and ready to dry. I need to find my moisture meter so I can see how dry the lumber is before I mill it to size.

After letting the lumber acclimate in my shop for about a week, I ripped the boards in half so that they would dry faster. My wimpy little table saw doesn’t have enough power to rip through 2x stock without binding, so I had to set the blade a little under ¾” high and make two passes, flipping the board over after the first pass. Due to the high moisture content some of the boards started to crook immediately once I took them off the table saw. Once the ripping was complete, I stickered all the boards to let them air dry for a couple of more weeks. Once dry I’ll start milling them to size.

I don’t know how this bench will turn out using pressure treated lumber but I figure I can describe some of successes and pitfalls I encounter while building it. I’ll keep you posted