The Big Think

April 25, 2008

Shop Time

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 8:50 am

Got a glorious 8 hours in the shop yesterday (1-9pm). Pretty sore today, but I have a lot to show for it.

Two days ago I went to the lumberyard and got 2 more QSRO boards to make the right side of the main carcasse. Pretty panful to the wallet. Each board was 7 inches wide, 10 feet long, and about $35. In all, it took 4 boards just to make the 2 sides of the main carcasse, for a grand total of $140 in lumber! It would have cost about $80 if I’d have made it out of ply, and I would have had enough left over for all of the shelves, but this is a once-in-my-lifetime project. If it ends up costing more to use the very best lumber, and if it looks correspondingly spectacular, it’s a price I’ll gladly pay, especially since it’ll still be cheaper than buying the thing new.

Anyway, I came home and planed/jointed/glued the panels up and let them sit overnight, then yesterday I spent 2 hours standing in one place sanding, sanding, sanding the two main side panels. This, dear friends, is why God invented the iPod. The thing saved my sanity (thanks again, Tim! It’s running like a champ!). I gone through literally hundreds (probably over 1000) podcasts while in my shop. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world. It’s also nice that I can make a custom, for-Jason-only audible “newspaper” that covers the topics I’m interested in. Tech, woodworking, science, etc. Right now I have 632 podcasts waiting to be listened to, and I’m sure I’ll eventually get to them all.

So after the sanding (sanding, sanding, sanding) was done I spent the next several hours carefully measuring and cutting the dados and grooves for the cross-pieces in the center section. Unfortunately, I messed up one of the cuts (DOH!), but luckily it was in a place that’ll be virtually invisible in the finished project (inside the cabinet area). Plus, I think I’ll be able to fill the dado with a piece of wood so that it’ll be much less obvious. WHEW. That was a close one. If I’d have screwed up on a more visible area I’d have been kicking myself.

It was amazing that six cuts (well, twelve, but I ganged the pieces together and cut both at once) took so long. It was almost three hours between start and finish, but I’m absolutely perfectionistic about these cuts. Since I’m making grooves on $140 worth of wood panels, it’s really important that I get it right.

Today Erin and I are going back to the lumberyard to get wood for the top of the cabinet. This has got to be the most beautiful and flawless wood I can find since it’s right on top where everybody can see it. Then I’ll come back and start assembling the center section from all these random pieces. I have to connect five large shelves of plywood (52″ x 21″) to the solid wood side pieces (60″ x 21″) in such a way that the solid sides are free to move with humidity, but still hold everything together tightly. How is this done? With buttons, of course. The idea is that you cut a small groove on one surface, then connect something solidly to the other surface in such a way that the perpendicular planes are held together in one dimension, but are allowed to slide in the other dimension. Here is a picture of a metal “button”. I’ll be making mine out of wood because it’s more authentic and because I can customize them to my needs. Here’s a better pic.

After the center carcasse is assembled I’ll spend another day planing and gluing up the three top pieces, then cut and sand (SAND! SAND!) it. Once it’s fastened on I’ll start in on the face frame. Lots of detail and work to come. I’m probably not even halfway there yet. Racing the summer heat.

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