Monday, May 24, 2010

getting there

I haven't been getting as much coverage on this build as I would like. I've been working the other job more and and at inconvenient times, the deadline (show) is quickly approaching, and I've managed to catch a cold in the spring. None of which are helping me out :/
Anywho! Back panel glue ups can be simple and can be pretty tricky. It depends on what your cabinet has going on heh. Only one partition to worry about on this one but the angled sides beg for some problem solving. It took about an hour & and half to get all the cauls good to go and a dry-run in. Under 10 min to perform the actual glue-up.

After the back panel was stuck I finally turned back to the doors. The doors have been sitting untouched for a month! Using my new 1-3/4" coopering plane to address the inside and my trusty smoother for the outside. I'm planning on sanding out the facets on the outside of the doors like the rest of the cabinet. The inside I will touch with 1000 grit paper but plan to leave the impression of the radius plane. It wont really be seen, but the "dips" can be felt. :)

Skip the brass bracket making ha. Not too interesting or difficult but takes time.
On to mortise making for said brackets! There's that mock-up back-panel again! I cut notches out where I've marked the brackets to go and lay the hardboard back in place to get an even surface to use the router on. Handy!

The little brass brackets fit and the #4 screws going into the cabinet sides. Though the back is glued in the sides are really the load-bearing components in a wall hung cabinet.
I probably could have gotten away with just one pair of brackets but decided to put another pair towards the bottom of the cabinet. I figure the drawers are at the bottom and that there will be stress from drawer use there. I'm trying to be safe rather than sorry and not letting the cabinet become a lever to pry at the top brackets by adding another pair of brackets. That hanging the cabinet on a stud in a wall can't be counted on.
Thanks goes out to Craig for letting me use his D&W boring machine fitted with a massive x-y table for the little grooves in the brackets.

Back to mocking up... pulls this time. The doors are basically hung. Not 100% done but I just wanted to switch focus for a bit. I'm shooting for a pair of post and bail pulls that will work with the subtle curves of the cabinet and grain. The Poplar mock-up is on the bulky side and not positive EXACTLY where they will go yet. But keeping in mind the height the cabinet will be hung the pulls work most comfortably towards the bottom.

Getting into the real pulls... as long as I don't screw them up ha. These little things are tricky particularly in a brittle wood such as Jatoba. The Jatoba starts out pretty light in color. After a couple months it get significantly darker. The plank I took these little pieces from had oxidized to a rich maroon-rust color that should work well with the Pear.
These things one should be mindful of when making objects to last many many years. How does a species behave or change over time? How long does it take? Can I use that to my advantage? Should I use a different species due to such changes?
Often I see people going crazy with Purple Heart, African Pauduk, Red Heart... but all of those dull and brown over time. Some end up being the color of cardboard! Not even close to the original intention.
Above putting to use a nice little carving knife I was lucky enough to receive from Jaun Carlos Fernandez... I bet he misses it ;)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

the plunge with a gouge

I didn't manage to get any shots of tail making, but it's very similar to pin making. Too focused on getting those joints done to take photos I guess.
Once the drawer joints were done I went to the pulls. This is not usually the order of operations but I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted and I figured the fronts would be easier to handle alone... also JUST in case I biffed a pull I wouldn't have put as much work into something I would need to redo.
There are many disciplines of woodworking and it is safe to say that am not an "expert" in all areas. Carving is one of those areas which made doing these pulls a bit scary. The relative little experience I have with turning bowls seemed to help me out though.
If others are interested in putting some carved details in their work I might suggest to skip the "tool kit". You probably don't need 80% of the kit. Just get what you need as you need them and over time you may collect a "kit" that is tailored to your work. I have 3 straight-gouges so far and I don't foresee needing more any time soon :).
As per personal preference I also modify the handles a bit. They come with such long handles for the small tools and are covered in a dreadful feeling finish. I just cut part of the handle off, shape the end, scrape the finish off, break all the edges and put one thin coat of oil back on the handles and I get a much nicer feeling tool :)

I cut a portion of a scraper off and shaped it to help me along. Luckily Pear carves very nicely, but it's still tricky changing fiber direction in the "valley" of the pull.

It went a bit quicker than anticipate. Not too shabby for my limited experience and they work like a charm :)

While doing the drawer glue-ups I turned my attention to the back panel. The hardboard is a piece that I fit to the cabinet and marked lines representing possible frame dimensions, put the hardboard diagram in the cabinet and see if the lines would work. Like a mock-up. The full-scale diagram is also very helpful to the actual work. Once again, no measuring, no guessing, it's right there :).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Drawers & Dovetails pt. 1

Making a nice drawer is definitely a challenge. One that sometimes get over looked. It needs precision work. Work that can often go wrong at any point in the process when searching for that perfect fit.
Stock prep. Because I have curved drawer fronts I have more prep to do. When shaping the fronts, the back of the fronts, where the joints will meet is most critical. Here I'm using the bottom of the front as a common registration for checking the shaping for "squareness".
If your ends are not co-planer you will get a crooked and awkward drawer heh.

I used a couple of scraps for "story sticks" The only story each of these have is the width of the drawer pocket opening, that and they allow me to see what kind of let-go I have in the cabinet. The are exact fits for each pocket opening.

Next I cross cut the drawer front on one side. The material was already fit to the height of the pocket. The edge is cleaned up with a block plane and checked against the cabinet side for fit. The cabinet may not be perfectly square, just make the fit according to where it's going!

Then take the "story-stick" with you to the table saw. I set a stop slightly wider than the exact fit stick. This allowance needs to cover a few things... Cleaning the cross-cut up, allowing the pins to sit a little proud when doing joinery, and planing to fit the drawer to the pocket. There's no CORRECT allowance one should leave. There are a number of factors - how well does your table saw perform?, how proud do you make your pins?, how much are you comfortable planing off the drawers to fit?

So with the stop set, and in my case the carriage trimmed first, MAKE SURE you're cutting the CORRECT SIDE! ha. And cut.

Cutting half-blind pins in the fronts. I could have fit five tails into these fronts which would be nice for a jewelry box type project but I figured with the thick fronts that I have the long skinny tails would look a little... misplaced perhaps? I'm using such "thick" fronts (about 1/2") because I'm hoping to make carved recessed drawer pulls without going through the back :)

I made an angled "chop-block" and ramp for the angled joinery. I have the feeling that I will rarely give myself the chance to do nice flat and square drawers ha, so I'm getting used to making curved and angled jigs to help and hold work along the way.

Fast forward a number of hours and all the pins are set to go!
Pear for the fronts and Maple for the rest.