Friday, March 28, 2014

Starting the finish

With all the assembly complete and final sanding done, I decided that it was time to work on finish. I used a lot of the knowledge I had picked up from the chest of drawers to get this started up. I found that with pine, wood dye works. I started this process on Wednesday by applying glue sizing to the piece. I make my glue sizing by mixing Elmer's Glue-All and water in a 5:1 water to glue mix. I shake and stir it up until it pretty much looks like milk, then I painted on a couple coats of it all over the entire nightstand. I left it overnight to dry.

Yesterday rolled around and I figured it was time to get the dye on. I had mixed up a batch of the Cherry Rosewood dye to make samples a while back, and I just left the jar of leftovers sitting around in my garage. I found it and tested it on a scrap and it seemed to work okay, so I applied it to the nightstand. My initial tests with this color seemed very purple, but now that it's on a full size piece, I can see the rosewood color very strongly.

I am glad about how the glue sizing helps to really control the blotching that pine can have. I am noticing some of the grain reversal and there are a couple of uneven spots, but I know that's pretty much how pine can end up. I fixed it by adding a second coat of dye and letting it soak in a little longer. I love how putting on the second layer of dye can really help to even out the color from uneven brushing and laying it down a little unevenly.

I made a really stupid mistake when I was doing the legs and I ended up hitting my brush and sent dye flying everywhere. Of course as Murphy's Law would have it, some of it flew into the drawer and stained the drawer bottom. I figured I could just blow it off and not worry since it'll be inside the drawer and if I have stuff in the drawer, it won't be seen.

As I got everything finished up, I am really happy with the color the dye gave to the pine. I tried to be careful to pick evenly colored pine pieces so that I would have less headaches on the finishing stage. It seems that strategy paid off.

I'm going to start applying poly tomorrow and it will probably take a couple of days to finish up everything. I think that I'll be able to get it into my room by Sunday, so I'm excited about that. Then I can work on figuring out what else I need to build and I can clean and organize the garage so I have more shop space.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Almost there

I spent time on Monday putting together the cleats for the drawer on my nightstand. My planer came in handy yet again for planing down some wood to fill the gap between the rails and the inside edge of the leg. I put in the cleats that keep the drawer from tipping out and called it a night. Going to work all day didn't leave me much energy to do a lot of woodworking.

Yesterday I finished up pretty much the rest. I cut the top down to size and made the breadboard edges. This time I didn't almost kill myself with my router while I was making the blind cuts, so I figured that was a good thing.

Being lazy, I cut the tongues for the breadboard edges using my router. I wasn't really feeling like setting up my dado blade again, so I figured that I'd use my 3/4" straight cutter on my router table. That actually turned out really well, so I think I may just do that next time I have to cut a tongue on a table top.

I clamped that up and left it overnight to dry. I know it didn't need that much time, but I didn't feel like working on anything else yesterday. I had made some 3' pipe clamps a while back and I find those work great for these panel-type glue ups. They're definitely way more convenient than those 5' ones I had made for bigger cabinets.

This morning I was able to get a little extra rest since it's a holiday, and then I went out to the garage to finish everything up. I took everything out of the clamps and sanded all the joints nice and smooth. I took some time to measure and attach the top, and then put in the runner assemblies for the drawer. I did a quick fit of everything, and it looks like everything worked out great. I then took the time to drill out the hole for the drawer knob, and then I did final sanding.

I'm going to finish this piece in a similar fashion to how I did the chest of drawers. I put on the glue size today and I think I can get a chance to dye it tomorrow. I thought about doing it the same color and then I realized that was psychotic because the first nightstand I made was made of poplar, and I'm pretty sure there's no way the pine I used this time would take the color and stain the same way. I thought about making it the same color as the chest of drawers, but since nothing in my room is built in the same style, I figured that I'd just go different with the color and use the cherry rosewood dye I bought a while back too. I got that and the pilgrim maple color dye that I used on the chest of drawers since I was intrigued with finding a different way to color wood on my projects. I wanted some easier application and more even coverage than what I could usually get from stain.

I had to get some new polyurethane today since the only can I have left is some clear satin that I didn't want to use on this project. I think I'll be able to finish this all up by the weekend and I hope that I can get it into my room by next week. I want to get to work on my bookcase, so I have to clean out the garage after this project is done and give myself some extra room.

So far I don't see too many limitations with the tools I have now. I can edge joint using my router table's split fence or even my table saw if I build a sled. If I have to face joint something, I can make a sled for my planer. That kind of eliminates my need for a jointer. I'm still hanging on to Nadine's dad's drill press so I'm good with that for now. If I could say there was a tool I wanted right now that I "needed", it would probably be a spindle sander or that Ridgid combination spindle/belt sander. I came to the conclusion that I'd like to make things that didn't just have straight lines, but I really don't want to sand those curves and stuff by hand. Some kind of spindle sander would be nice.

Things look pretty good with this nightstand. It is just going to be sitting in my bedroom and it'll have a lamp and stuff on it, so I doubt that anyone would be spending tons of time looking at and inspecting it. I think that Nadine's one came out better, and I am finding that poplar is way easier to work with than pine. I over-sanded in more than a few places and that didn't happen with the poplar. I think I might have to start thinking about using more hardwoods for projects.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I love my planer....

Nadine and I spent most of the day today running errands and stuff, so I didn't have much time to do woodworking today. I unclamped the base to my nightstand and everything was good. It's all within 1/32" to being perfectly square, and that's plenty good enough for me. I spent my afternoon working on the drawer for the nightstand. I figured that if I built that today, I can finish up the top either tomorrow after my concert, or Monday afternoon after school.

I have some 1/2" plywood lying around from my chest of drawers project, but I decided that I wanted solid wood drawers. After all, the entire thing is made with pine, so having plywood in the drawer seems like a horrible waste. This also gave me a free chance to use my planer that hasn't seen any use short of some test cuts.

I planed down a few pieces of pine down to 1/2" and the planer worked awesome. I did some reading up on how to reduce planer snipe, and I'm happy to say that I've been able to keep the snipe to a minimum. Whatever was there was easily sanded down or cut off. I put together the drawers with very little incident except for me making my bottom panel slightly too big, but that was an easy trim with my table saw.

The planer makes drawer construction super easy. Having flat 1/2" stock is awesome.

I learned that having properly planed wood makes things REALLY easy to lay out and the dry fit was super easy  because everything was flat and square. Now I know what people are talking about when they say to have properly squared and prepped stock. If I had money for some rough lumber, I can see how projects can be made almost perfectly with much less effort. It just takes time to prep the stock.

I'm not sure what I was thinking before assembly since I normally sand the interior drawer surfaces, but I stupidly didn't think to avoid the joint areas. I ended up sanding the joints a little loose, but everything was still snug and the glue grabbed fine. I'll fill the small gaps prior to finishing, so no big deal.

Got a little overzealous with the sander there.

I need to figure out a way to catch the planer chips. The exhaust fan is extremely strong and it blew all the chips right into and straight out of the trash can I was planning on using. It doesn't work with my dust separator because the fan is so strong it blows everything out of there too. I'll have to research that. I also need to modify my dust collector so that it's more efficient. I think I'll have to make use of the leftover MDF that I have and I get to play with my circle cutting sub-base for my router.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how this is turning out. I think that Nadine's came out better, but I know that poplar is much easier to work with than pine. At least the pieces of pine I used for my nightstand aren't full of resin and sap like my chest of drawers was. Doing that project gummed up all my blades and router bits something awful.

After this project is done, I have to do some small retuning to my table saw fence and clean blades and bits. I think a storage unit and bookcase are in order next. That's going to require some plywood and maybe I can get some nice solid wood to use. Now that I know I can prep stock fairly easily to make it perfect, I feel more confident about using better materials.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to hide mistakes

I started off today by laying out all the mortise and tenon joinery for the base and apron of my nightstand. I was lucky enough to have found my rough sketch for the nightstand I made for Nadine, so I just followed those measurements since I'm pretty much making a duplicate of that one. Everything was going okay -- I had to sacrifice some pieces of wood that were so severely twisted I couldn't fix them without making some kind of trick sled for my planer to correct it, but I got enough good pieces to make all the sides and front rails. Then I somehow fell off the rails.

I thought that I would be able to just knock out those mortises and get on with the project. I did all the right things. I set my router table fence properly. I set up the bit height and marked the start and stop points. Everything was going okay until I started to cut the short rail mortises. I don't know what I was thinking, but I cut to the wrong line. Needless to say, I was slightly grouchy. I made a dutchman to fix the original cut and glued it in. Once it dried, I sanded it flush and went back to work cutting the mortises. The rest went without incident.

I should mention that the plunge cutting bits from Eagle America are quite good. I got one a while back to take care of the mortises on Nadine's nightstand, but I never really got a chance to use them because I was impatient and just used a straight bit. This one definitely cut better and I didn't stress out my router. I would have gotten a 3/8" spiral bit, but those are plenty expensive. The plunge cutting bit was way cheaper and seems to work just as well.

I think that will disappear under the finish....
The dry fit was good and so I got on to doing some assembly. Last time I made a nightstand, I used up almost all my clamps to get it all squared up. This time it took a lot less, which means I'm either getting better at this or I've figured out some kind of decent procedure to get it assembled quicker.

I have the top to size up and then I need to make the drawer. I might have to make some modifications to my crosscut sled since the humidity is making the runner catch in the miter slot. I'm really thinking about building a new one that has a plastic or metal runner so that I don't have to fight the humidity. I'll have to figure that out some time in the future.

I'm just hoping that I can get this done tomorrow. I have a concert on Sunday, so I won't have any time to do anything woodworking related then. Once I finish the woodworking, I can sand and finish the project after school during the upcoming week. I'm glad there's Kuhio Day in the middle of the week. I'm guessing that could give me a chance to either go fishing or get started on another project. I still have those bookcases to build...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Nightstand (finally)

I started the process of making my nightstand yesterday. I went down to Home Depot and picked up a few pieces of #2 pine and got to work cutting the legs to size. I had started on the top a while back, but I didn't have any time to get things going until now. Luckily the panel I glued up way back then was fine and is still flat and strong. I just need to cut that to size.

As with all my projects, I started with cleaning off my table saw since it was a little rusty. WD-40 and a white scotch-brite was pretty much all it needed to get rid of the bulk of the rust. There was no pitting or anything major, so I hit it with some T9 and let it dry for a few hours. I then got to sizing the pieces for the legs. I got them in the clamps and let it sit overnight.

Doesn't look like much, but it'll be some table legs...
I didn't really get much work done today since I wanted to spend it relaxing. I took a trip out to Lahaina and that was nice to unwind while I still have time left in Spring Break.

Since the nightstand I built for Nadine only took me like 3 days total, I'm guessing that I can finish this all before the weekend ends. I even lucked out and found the rough plan I made for her nightstand, so I can reference that for all my mortise and tenon cutting. I can also use my plunge cutting bit that I bought back when I built the other nightstand. I'm sure that will work much better than the regular straight bit I used last time. I was so impatient to build Nadine's night stand I did all my joinery cutting before my order came in. Now I have the proper bits and I understand how to build everything this time. This should go faster.

Tomorrow I have to size the apron panels, cut the mortises, and taper the legs. Once that is done, I can put together the base and get that glued and clamped up. I think that if I get up early enough, I can do that in the morning and then spend the afternoon sizing the top, making the breadboard edges, and put together the drawer. I think that I might be able to get the entire thing finished tomorrow, but we'll see how that goes.

I'm trying not to rush through this so I don't ruin anything, but I know that I can do this quickly. It wasn't hard the first time. It should be just as easy this time.