Thursday, June 25, 2020
Even though the state of Nevada is slowly coming back to life, I think that some people are still cooped up in their homes, and working on projects around the house. Yesterday was a record for me, four people brought chairs to the shop for me to repair.
I used to dread these repairs, but honestly, after you've done a few, they're quite easy.
This one had a broken side stretcher,
and it was a little tricky because of its odd size. It was basically a dowel, but an weird size - 7/8" in diameter. Of course, I had smaller ones at the shop. And bigger ones. But not that exact size.
I didn't feel like pulling out the lathe and turning a new one. So the next best thing was to make a quick one - by cutting a strip of wood 7/8" square,
and then running over the corners with a router bit.
I used a bit that wasn't exactly the right size, but in a pinch, I made it work. I rounded the corners over, and them shaped the ends to fit into the holes on the chair, where the broken piece fits.
Of course, they used a pocket hole on the stretcher (anyone who know me will know how I feel about those!) so I had to drill one on each end. A little sanding and the new stretcher was ready for finishing.
There's nothing like using Mohawk spray Toners to match a finish. I tested these - one was too golden, and the other was too red.
But the perfect match was this...
Dark Walnut. Perfect.
I love it when the right color pops out immediately, instead of having to blend colors together. I taped off the ends, so they would remain clean for gluing,
and made a small "rotisserie" out of cardboard, for spraying the part.
Honestly, this piece was a super quick fix - from old to new in 45 minutes. You could barely tell the broken part from the new one. Another happy customer in the books!
Other small repairs are piling up - a bunk bed ladder to re-size, a few new drawers to make, and a rocking chair repair. As much as these small jobs can be tedious, they actually make me a much better woodworker, teaching me about matching finishes, re-engineering poorly designed pieces, and more.
One thing is for sure - people want these repairs done quickly and for a fair price.
What's your latest home project? Working on anything fun?
Thursday, June 18, 2020
This pandemic has been a blessing and a curse, but one things is for sure - people have been taking care of small projects around their homes. Not a day goes by when I don't get a call about a repair, a new project, or someone interested in taking a class.
Honestly - most business owners I know tell me they're busier than ever. Sure, things are different.
LIFE IS DIFFERENT.
But most have adapted with curb-side pickups, online sales, distance learning, Zoom meetings, etc. It's working.
One of the constants in my life is people calling for repairs. I get calls about everything from broken furniture, to refinishing, to building new projects, but one of the most popular calls is for drawer and door repair.
Property managers constantly have apartments or homes that have damaged components, and well.... who wants to rent a place that has missing kitchen drawers? Or broken doors?
This door came to me with a panel that had a giant hole in it. (Of course I forgot to take a picture of it before I removed the panel.) Suffice it to say that this repair was pretty stressful! The tenant was threatened with having to pay for all new doors in the kitchen, because of this one broken door.
I made two plunge cuts on the tablesaw, cutting away the two strips of wood that held the panel in place.
Luckily, I had parts of the old panel that I could use as a template for the new panel.
And one of my neighbors in my warehouse complex had a piece of plywood that I could use, thus avoiding having to buy a whole 4x8 sheet.
But I knew the challenge would be matching the finish.. that's ALWAYS the biggest problem!
I pulled out my trusty Mohawk catalog,
and tried to find a close match. I ended up going to my local Mohawk store,
and the clerk tested a few different shades until we found the closest match. It's not perfect; one was too white, another to yellow... but we finally found one that would work.
I ended up with a shade in the middle - maybe not a perfect match, but as we say.... close enough!
Putting the panel back in was a bit of a challenge. I had to coax it in place gently - so I grabbed my "small" mallet.
One whack later and it slipped into the slots. All that was left was two small strips of trim on the back of the door, to keep the panel in place. Repairs like this are more tedious than difficult.
Taking a trip to the Mohawk store was probably the most time consuming part, honestly. I feel like there's so much stress going on in people's lives that taking on small jobs like these are the least I can do to help out a bit. It's not much, but it sure saved my customer a ton of money in the long run.
(That's - Thank God for Mohawk!)
Monday, May 25, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
If I'm going to be honest, this pandemic shutdown is starting to get to me. In good ways and bad ways, too.
It not so much the cessation of classes; I can handle that. In fact, I'm trying to look at it as a blessing, so I'm doing some heavy duty sorting and decluttering at the school. And I have some really nice commissions I'm finally having a chance to complete. So I can't complain there.
But... It's the uncertainty.
I've never been a fan of that. Call me boring, but I like certainty. I like schedules, and timelines and calendars with firm dates. Some people can live by the seat of their pants, without firm plans or an idea of where they're headed. That's not me.
Anyway, I've been working on this cabinet and it was time to turn attention to the base. I experimented with a few different widths for the base to finally determine its width.
I couldn't be sure until I actually put the cabinet on top, so ensure I had the proper margins.
At the same time, I was experimenting with the drawers that I need to build.
I'm trying to decide if I want integrated pulls in the drawer faces, or not. (Probably not.)
When I'm in the "designing" phase, my shop basically is trashed...and the workbench takes the brunt of it.
With the base dimensions finally determined, I clamped it together,
and turned my sites toward the carcase. Although I Domino'ed the carcase together, I felt that it needed some added fasteners, and remembered that I'd bought these Lee Valley square punches a while back... just for a project like this! They allow you to create some square plugs, a very nice detail that I love to add into my work.
The punches come in a few different sizes, and I chose the 3/8 inch for this job.
You start with a hole (I drew lines here so that I would get the proper location),
and then give the punch a few solid taps with a hammer.
The punch shears off the excess to create a perfectly square hole.
A small chisel helps get rid of any little bits that don't come out cleanly.
Then I drilled a pilot hole for the screw and BAM! A perfect solution fro beefing up the case of this piece.
But... where do I get the square plugs to fill these? Now it would have been really easy to just cut a strip of wood, and make smalls plugs... but....
the grain would have been running in the wrong orientation. So I took a board, cut a few 45 degree angles,
and managed to make some plugs with the grain running the proper direction.
It took a few touch ups on the sander, test fitting them in this scrap.
A little bit of glue holds them in place.... and then the chisel magic begins.
I love chisels, BTW. They're one of my favorite tools.
Paring down a plug with a sharp chisel is one of woodworking's true joys.
Finally - I designed a little sign for the back of the cabinet. Might as well commemorate this situation.
I particularly like the barbed wire border, which just about sums up life these days.
Drawers and finishing. This piece is 85% done!
Friday, May 15, 2020
With the casework mostly finished, it was time to set my sights on building the base. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, with the simple sketch of the base.
And to be honest, I was channeling James Krenov's muse in deciding the height of this piece. (His pieces are very diminutive.) I'm about five feet tall, and I wanted to cabinet height to be around that height. If it was much taller, I wouldn't be able to see inside the top drawer!
Putting the cabinet on a bench gave me a little perspective in determining the height of the base. In situations like this, I think best with a cup of coffee in my hand.
With a few measurements,
I came up with a scaled drawing, and mortised the tops and bottoms of the base.
To lighten things up a bit, I scalloped the bottoms. I like how this creates an integrated "pad" for the feet, and allows it to sit better on an uneven floor.
Then it was time to cut tenons on the uprights.
There are so many ways to cut tenons, but I like machining these with a sliding cut on the tablesaw. I start with the shoulder cuts, which establish the length of the tenon.
Cleaning up the rest of the tenon goes pretty quickly.
With a little sanding, the base went together perfectly. It was glued and clamped overnight.
All that's left is determining how wide the base needs to be. With a little luck, I'll have this base together today, and can start on the drawers.
Don't faint - this is the first piece I've built myself in years. And I have another one started!