Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting there...

I haven't had much time to work on things recently with school starting up again and having some rod building projects to finish up, but I was able to put together some parts of the garage cabinets.

I managed to get my top for my cabinets built. It's not perfectly square, but only I'm going to notice that. I learned that masonite is not the easiest thing to cut on my saw due to its flexibility since it's only about 1/4" thick. After dealing with some pretty suspect cuts, I realized that I should have oversized it and then used a flush trimming bit on my router to make sure it's perfect. Considering the small mistakes I made on it, it still came out good and it'll definitely be a better work surface than my table saw table and I won't have to worry about getting glue on my saw table.

Cutting the plywood for the counter turned out to be a little bit of an adventure due to the fact that I don't have an outfeed table yet. This leads to bizarre setups with my scrap plywood and sawhorses so I don't kill myself when I run it through my saw. So...guess what my next project is going to be?

I also worked on the left side cabinet, which will feature two small drawers - I'm thinking fastener storage along with drill and router bit storage. I learned the hard way that I should have made the drawer divider before setting the cabinets together and all that. But I got it in with minimal stress and now I can work on building my small drawers. The lower section I'm closing off with a pair of doors, but I'm not sure if I should put in a pull-out to get the tools out more easily. I'll figure that out later.

It's getting there. At least it's more organized than it used to be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Making Drawers

After figuring out where I screwed up, this is the top drawer all clamped up.

Making drawers for my cabinets turned out to be a bit of an adventure. After you watch enough shows on woodworking, you get this strange sense of being able to do it because the guy on TV makes it look really easy. I kind of forgot a few things:
  • I'm not Norm from the New Yankee Workshop.
  • Those TV shows have editors.
  • Experience comes from making mistakes.
So, armed with the false sense of confidence that I could actually do this with very little difficulty, I started to work on the drawers. There were a few pluses -- 1/2" plywood is much lighter and easier to handle than 3/4" plywood, and the cutting of the wood was relatively easy and fast since it's a lot of repetition.

Of course, that leads to the minuses. The first was the realization that undersized plywood screws with measurements. My new dado set comes with the 3/32" chipper to get the groove closer to the right size, but then came the setting up of my dado head so I could get the cuts right. That took a LONG time. I think I might have taken upwards of an hour getting the dado set up  and making tons of test cuts. Then I learned the hard way that a "slip fit" is looser than I thought it should be...when I broke one of my drawer sides during assembly. Thankfully, it was only on one drawer, so I made the appropriate adjustments for the other two drawer
It's always nice when the drawer doesn't give you any drama.
As luck would have it, I also learned that I need to be more precise when cutting my bottom panels. My first drawer was slightly off, so I kind of forced it all together. The second drawer, strangely enough, went together with no problems at all. The third drawer took me two days to build since I had to recut the bottom panel. Turns out it was 1/16" off.

Strangely enough, the easiest part of all this work was mounting the drawers into the cabinet itself. I read through the instructions pretty carefully, and I got the drawers sized properly. Installing was a snap, and now I have some good drawers to put things in to keep stuff organized.

Next up on the list of things is to build the actual drawer fronts for the cabinet, make the top for the cabinet, and then work on the parts for the left cabinet. I'm thinking of making a pair of smaller drawers and then a larger pull-out for my bigger tools. This project is taking me a bit longer than I expected, but at least I'll have my tools organized, and I'll have a bench that I can assemble things on so I won't have to use my table saw as a table.
Yay...it all fits.
Got to use it for some storage...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Garage cabinet #2

I got my second cabinet carcase put together today. After learning that I cut my dadoes too deep, I'll have to keep notes for next time so that I don't make that mistake next time I make some other cabinets -- there is a mobile shop table I want to make, but I need to finish my base cabinets first.

After cutting parts yesterday, I realized I made a really stupid mistake and cut some of my stretchers before I did a good inventory of my parts. So, I ended up without a bottom stretcher for my cabinet. While I'm a bit irritated by that, I know that I have to buy some more 3/4" plywood anyway, so I can just make another stretcher with a scrap from that. The nice thing is that both of my cabinets are square, so my cutting skills have gotten better.

I went out to Home Depot tonight and got a couple more clamps so I'll be able to put together my drawers. I also picked up a beam level so I can level out my cabinets. I was originally going to use leveling feet for my cabinet, but I figured I'd do it the old fashioned way and use shims. I also figured that 12 shims cost $2...leveling feet cost a bit more than that, and I'm not going to need 12 shims to level out my cabinet, I hope. If I do, then my garage floor is definitely more uneven than I thought.

I've made my materials list to finish out the cabinets, so with some luck, I'll be able to get this done by the end of next week. Then I can work on organizing my garage and getting stuff cleaned up. Then I'll have at least something I can kind of call a workshop.

Cabinet #2...just have to build the internal parts.
I debated putting some kind of finish on these cabinets, but I decided against it since they're for the garage, and I'm not sure I want to go through the trouble. I'm still debating on the door design too, but I think that can be settled later.  I could make slab doors, but I know I can cut square panels, so I may decide to test my door making skills by making a frame and panel style door just for the hell of it.

Like always, I really wish there were more time in the day so I could actually get projects done...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Garage Cabinets...

I finally got a chance to work on my garage cabinets today. I had to do some maintenance on my table saw since I hadn't really used it for almost 2 months. The cast iron table was starting to rust a little, so I had to clean all that off and rewax the top. Luckily the rust was light and there wasn't any pitting. I'll have to start working on my woodworking stuff more often so that I don't run into those problems again.

I had bought a new dado set that I didn't get a chance to use until today, and I'm extremely happy with it. For the price I paid, it cuts nice straight sides and very flat bottoms. I spent a good amount of time cutting dadoes and rabbets in my cabinet sides. After that, I decided to make my bottom panels and stretchers. Since I've been attempting to clean my garage, my chop saw was out of commission, so I did everything with my table saw. This taught me a few things:

  • I injure myself more with stationary tools.
  • Wood really does expand and contract with humidity - my panel cutter needs some adjusting so it actually works again. Thankfully, that 30" right rip capacity on my saw came in very handy today.
  • Having the right tools for the job makes life way easier.
  • My table saw makes a nice table since I don't have my bench finished yet.
I'm getting a little better with the nail gun too. Only blew one brad through the side of the cabinet - luckily it was on the inside and no one's going to see that once I put the drawers in.

I also built a small dust separator back before I started teaching again which I finally got a good chance to use today and it worked beautifully. The separator holds most of the chips and dust, and very little of it made it into my actual bucket shop vac. I thought that was a definite plus -- less sweeping out the garage for me.

In general, I thought today was definitely a win in terms of me remembering how to build things and getting things to work out properly. Next thing on my list is the drawers for the cabinet I just made and to put together the other carcase for my second cabinet. 
Cabinet carcase finished. Now for drawers.

With some luck, maybe I can get this all done by the end of Spring Break...I'm not holding my breath on that, though. It seems that I always run out of time when I want to get things done. I only wish I could cut wood at 3 in the morning.