Thursday, October 25, 2012

Router table completed

I got my router table finished up today and with that complete, my garage workshop is one step closer to being as versatile as I want it to be.

I put on a cherry stain and then finished it with two coats of polyurethane. The instructions on the poly say to put on three coats, but I figured that this isn't fine furniture, and it's going to be covered in sawdust half the time anyway, so I decided to just leave the 3rd coat out.

My attempt to sequence the front panels so that it looks like a single board worked out pretty well, and I'd be more inclined to do it on future projects that have continuous fronts. With the cabinet open in the middle, it kind of defeats the effect, especially with the heavy grain of the oak plywood I used.

The top looks like it will work out great, and the split fence works well. I have to build a couple of featherboards for this that will fit into the t-track I made on the fence, but that can wait. I have scraps of wood that I can use for that.

If I were going to make any change -- yes, I know that I just finished this would be to get a different color laminate for the top. It's not that I don't like green, but I'd like a brighter color. I always have to remember that I got the green laminate because I wasn't about to spend $72 for a full sheet of laminate in a color I wanted. I'm sure that in a few years when I want to make an improved router table, I'll get it and build it the way that I really want.

I would love to make some frame and panel doors with this table. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to build this table. Aside from routing small parts safely, the fact that I can now cope and stick doors and make divided light glass doors and other things like that much more easily as long as I can get the right bits. I can also do mortise and tenon joinery too. I feel like there are many more possibilities for me now that I have this table built. Since I have some scrap plywood and MDF, I can actually make a tenoning jig for my table saw now, and that will really help me out. I haven't made enough jigs to really make my tools as powerful as they should be.

In terms of future projects, I have four things that are really in the "immediate" category:
  • Shoe storage for the porch.
  • A cabinet for my fishing stuff.
  • A dresser for Nadine's Kimono.
  • A new stand for my chop saw.
In terms of priority, I think the fishing storage would be first since if I can clean that up, that should open up some space in my garage and give me more working area. Considering my garage is around 20x20, I shouldn't feel so cramped working in here. I know giving my fishing stuff a home will definitely help.

The other three projects will come as I get things worked out. I think the chop saw station would be the second thing I could make. Since it seems my chop saw isn't totally square, I'd like to make some adjustments to it. Problem is that I have it bolted to the table I made. I don't want to unbolt it, adjust it, then put it right back on the table when it doesn't solve the issue of my table being stationary.

Since my room isn't quite done yet, I think that I can finish my other shop and garage projects first and finish up the room. I still need to grout the tiles, finish painting, and lay the floor. I think that I can take care of that in the upcoming week, and then I can finally move back in there. I've pretty much spent all of October living out in the living room of the house, and I really want my room back.

I have to look at kimono storage for ideas as to how to build Nadine's kimono dresser, but I think I can come up with something. I also have a few ideas to help Nadine's dad out with organizing the garage at her house, and I think it will involve building a few cabinets there too. I spent a while talking to her dad last weekend and he seemed pretty receptive to some of my ideas, so I hope that I'll be able to help him out and make him a few things that will let him get the garage organized.

I'm thinking I may want to do some woodworking projects for Christmas gifts, but that's a bit tough considering I've never done any small-scale projects before, and you can't exactly package up a set of base cabinets and drop them at someone's house...

Lots to think about, and lots to plan. I'm sure that I'll be able to get it done in time. Hopefully good time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Router table update..

My router table is coming along now. I took the time to put together all the drawers for the cabinet. I have four bit storage drawers and a wrench drawer that fit in the upper section. I also made three larger drawers that will serve as jig and other fixture storage. I haven't made this many drawers before, so I really had to pay attention to workflow and making sure that my procedures for ripping, crosscutting, and grooving were all set up so I don't spend my whole life resetting my table saw for all the different cuts.

Small drawer parts. Ready to go.
Assembled and ready for glue.
The good news was that I figured out how to cut everything with a minimum of problems. The bad news is that I found out my chop saw is out of I'll have to adjust that later. I probably won't need it for the rest of this project, so I can deal with it when my router table is done.

I managed to save myself some money and I got to use up this sheet of masonite I had bought to make the top for my workshop cabinets. I needed a backer for the bottom of my bit drawers, and since I didn't want to buy a sheet of 1/4" plywood, I just went to my scrap sheet of masonite and cut the drawer bottoms out of that.

After putting together the small drawers, I went to work on the larger drawers. I built those using locking rabbet joinery for the drawer fronts, just like my other cabinet. Having practiced making them before, this time the process was much faster and I experienced a lot less headache, except of course for the fact that I made two of the same side for one of my drawers, so I had to sacrifice a little more plywood than I originally wanted to. In time, I'm going to get better at that so I don't waste more wood.

I got all the drawer slides installed and I also learned in a hurry that trying to install drawer slides in a very small space sucks. I could ask for a right angle drill, but I think if I have to make smaller drawers like that, I'll make my own runners out of wood. I think it'll save me the hassle of trying to fit my hand and drill in a space that's almost too small to fit.

Everything fits. I guess I do know how to measure.
Larger drawers clamped up.

All the drawers are done. Now on to the top.
With all the drawers installed, I can start laying out for the top. I got my switch and t-slot bit in the mail today, so I can start working on that tomorrow. Fitting the router plate is giving me fits because I really don't want to mess that up. I have a lot of MDF to work with, but I want this right the first time. I have to design the fence and get that put together too, and so that will probably take me to the end of the week.

I'm obviously not Norm, so getting this done in 2 days would have been asking a bit too much of my skills. Like my workbench, I've been learning tons about how to do this, and I can definitely say this worked out better than my bench did, and there are a lot of procedures I've learned along the way that really makes life easier.

If all goes well, I can probably assemble the top tomorrow and with some luck/hope, I can get things worked up and laid out properly. I have to work on the fence too, so I might start that first because I think that may work out better and quicker than laying out the top.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Router Table

A router was something I picked up very quickly after my mom got me my table saw. I did some edge shaping, groove cutting, and mortising with it and have been getting by with a lot of just really basic handheld routing techniques. As I've been wanting to start cutting wood more again and I have future plans like building furniture for my bedroom renovation, I've been watching and studying plans. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed a router table was to be the next logical step.

I debated how to go about the router table. I have an extension wing that I built for my table saw, and it looked like that might work out with some modifications to the extension, but I decided I'd go a different route and build a standalone table. I do want to have a bit more closed storage, and the router table allows me to free up space in my main cabinet by giving me a dedicated space for my router bits, jigs, and stuff.

Looking for inspiration, I spent a lot of time on the Google looking for ideas. I also looked to Norm for ideas, and I watched a bit on YouTube. I watched Steve Ramsey's videos as well, and from all of that, I started laying out my design. It was based pretty heavily on the New Yankee Deluxe Router Station. I was able to get the plate and miter track on sale from Rockler, and got some plywood from Home Depot and got to work.

It's been a few months since I did anything related to woodworking, so I had to clean off my table saw and do all the maintenance and all that first. Thankfully the saw cleaned up quick and everything was still aligned well. I spent one afternoon earlier this week cutting all my 3/4 ply to rough sizes for the panels. Thursday I spent time cutting all my panels to exact size and doing a very careful layout to make sure I didn't screw anything up. With the layout done and checking against my sketch and plans, I figured that it was good to go, and I got to work yesterday (Friday) cutting dadoes and rabbets so I could assemble things.

My initial dry-fit was pretty good. I had to do some fine tuning to my panels since my plywood wasn't very consistent in thickness so some parts of the dadoes were a little loose while others were almost too tight. With some careful sanding, I got everything together dry and worked out my bit storage drawer layout. I put together my parts for that, got everything fitted in, then it was time for some assembly.

As I put everything together, the internal sub-assembly worked out fine. I held everything together with screws and glue, and did some initial toe-nailing with the brad nailer to get it together before I could set the screws. Needless to say, I learned that the toe nailing technique works well -- I should believe Norm when he says that. I only blew one brad through a side, but it was in the back where no one would really see it, and it was barely through enough so I just sanded it flush and it's basically invisible. I figured one blowout was a win. The last time I tried to toe-nail, it was a disaster and I hate removing brads.

Next it was on to the sides. I had one set of really tight dadoes, so I was ready to get that all together. Strangely, it went together pretty easily. I figured it must have been the glue helping to lubricate the assembly. I attached both sides with glue, toe-nailed brads, and a few clamps to keep everything together while I got the nails in. The nice part -- no mechanical fasteners showing on the outside.

I stood the cabinet up to look at it, and then it dawned on me why the assembly wasn't as difficult as it seemed -- I put in the internal sub-assembly backward! My initial plan was for the small storage drawers to be on the left side. The small pocket was on the right now. Apparently that tight part of the dado was sitting in a part that wasn't cut quite square enough, but with the assembly reversed, it went in without much drama. I figured that it didn't matter to me where those two smaller drawers would be, and I didn't want to have to try and tear everything apart. The good news was that my layout was accurate enough that I could get away with putting it together backward without messing up life.

I attached the back and got everything all put together. Checked it for square, and it was all good.

Here's some images:

With the carcase complete, I can work on cutting up some drawer stock. I have to think about the joinery, but if I can rough up the stock first, then I can make my decision as I go. I should probably practice more locking rabbet joinery, but I just loathe the setup for it. I think I messed around with my setup for a good hour today cutting samples so my dadoes would work out. Laying out drawers takes me even longer. I hope that my experience making my shop cabinets pays off and helps me shorten my working time.

I'm still trying to finish up my fence and tabletop design so I can get working on that. I have the MDF for it all ready to go and I just need to get everything laid out and I need a good way to rout the recess for the plate to fit in. I'm sure that I'll get everything figured out as I go.

I have to repaint my bedroom and install the new flooring too, so this may take me a little longer than I wanted it to, but I know that out of it, I'll get a nicely renovated bedroom along with a router table. Then after that, it's a matter of making new furniture.