Sunday, September 22, 2013

A shop project - my planer cart.

Since getting a Dewalt 635 planer from Nadine a couple weeks ago, it's been sitting on the garage floor under the outfeed table for my table saw. I did put it through a couple of test runs already and it works great. It does snipe, but I'm going to pick up the infeed and outfeed supports for it when I get a chance to help with that. It really is a great tool, and I'm looking forward to using it when I have to make some furniture using actual quality hardwood.

If there is a downside to the planer, it's that the thing weighs almost 100 pounds, so carrying it around isn't exactly a walk in the park. I know that I can deadlift over 250 easily, but I like to keep that in the gym. Whoever decided that a tool that weighs this much is "portable" needs to have a lesson in what portable means. So I don't throw out my back moving this thing around my garage, I got to work on making a cart for it. The big upside to this project is that a good chunk of the project helps me use up all the scrap wood from the chest of drawers I just made.

All glued up. My planer looks lonely under the table.
I was able to build the carcase out of the remaining 3/4" birch plywood I had from the chest of drawers, and the drawer will be built from the remaining 1/2" plywood. I did have to go out and buy a sheet of MDF and masonite for the top and a couple pieces of pine for the face frame and the top, but in general, this project is turning out to be relatively cheap considering that I didn't have to go out and buy all new wood for it. Assembly went through without incident, and I was able to get it together and nailed without any blowouts.

I wanted to try something different with this build, so I decided I should apply a face frame to this cabinet and get used to doing face frame cabinet making. After all, not everyone is going to want Euro frameless cabinets and I'd hate to tell someone in the future that I wouldn't be able to build them something because I couldn't make it look the way they wanted it to.

After picking up some more #2 pine from Home Depot today, I got to work making the face frame. I ripped the pieces to a uniform width and then used my chop saw to make the crosscuts for length. I think I'm going to have to send my chop saw blade off for sharpening soon. There's no way a 60 tooth ATB blade should cut worse than the 50 tooth combo blade that's in my table saw. Diablo blades don't suck, but I have had this same blade in my chop saw since the day after I got it, and I've only cleaned it a few times.

I guess this counts as a dry-fit.
I know that most "real" woodworkers scoff at the notion of using pocket screws, but I've learned a couple things through my journey into woodworking:

  • There's more than one way to skin a cat.
  • I'm not setting up for mortise and tenons just for a face frame.
  • I have a Kreg jig, and I'm going to use it in situations where it works well.

I decided to put together the face frame with pocket screws since it seemed that it required very little setup and I rarely use my Kreg jig because I'd rather use other joinery methods. My other justification for this is that the pockets are on the back side (i.e., the inside of the cabinet), so who the heck is going to see them? Besides, this is a project for my shop, so I'm going to be the only one who sees this all the time. I also feel that since Norm uses them, it can't be all bad.

I'm glad that I build my things carefully and make sure that these things are as square as I can manage. This made the face frame fit very well. I had to just glue and brad the frame onto the carcase since I don't have a biscuit joiner and a million clamps. I have wood filler to fill the nail holes and I'll just be careful with it so I don't smear it all over the wood. I had some issues with that when I built my chest of drawers and that stuff doesn't pick up the stain or dye very well.

Glued and nailed. Just have to sand now.
I was quite surprised at how stiff the front of the cabinet is with the face frame in place. I've known through my research that a face frame does add stiffness, but that the actual difference in cabinet strength is negligible when compared to a well built Euro cabinet. I'm beginning to wonder if that's for real. I was able to rack the vanity I made for Chibi fairly easily. I think I'd have to put some serious weight to try and draw the front of this thing out of square.

I have a storage drawer for this to make along with a pair of doors. I have a pair of hinges for 3/8" inset doors, so I'm going to give that a shot this time around. I also want to try and use my door-making router bits. I made a couple of samples so I know they work properly, but things always change when you make things for keeps.

I think that aside from being a home for my planer, I'm going to keep my nailers and fasteners in this cart. Right now I store those things in my back bench, and it's always a hassle to have to go past my table saw to get back there. If it were in a cart that I could keep near my router table, it would be a lot easier.

This should be another fast and easy project for me. I know that these shop things are basically practice for when I have to make kitchen cabinets, so I'm welcoming the challenge, and the practice is always good.