Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Small assembly table - ran out of clamps!!

I'd like to preface this blog with a small comment that getting sick sucks, especially when it's during your vacation and you technically have a lot of things you want to get done so that you can continue to improve on projects like the house, getting to the gym, and various other things like that. Anyway, now that that's out of the way, on with the show.

Since I did get sick, most woodworking came to a standstill. I didn't want to be outside breathing sawdust when I'm pretty sure I got a small bit of bronchitis from the cold I caught and I'm very sure sawdust is not a valid way to fix it. In any case, I'm feeling better today and decided that I'd do some assembly on this table. I think it won't take too much more to get it done since the rest of the woodworking on it will involve making braces, finishing the table top, building a shelf, then putting it all together and then sealing it with spar varnish.

I had the dry fit of the frame just sitting there in my garage for the past week or so, and it was holding together pretty much just fine. I was contemplating doweling the whole thing together or going full-blown old school and draw-boring the dowels so I wouldn't need clamps, but I figured I'd just glue it up, clamp it, and let it cook. This provides me with a small issue -- I actually don't have enough clamps to do this right.

When I made my first set of pipe clamps, I got two 5' lengths of black pipe. I wasn't foreseeing building anything that would require clamps that long, so I figured the pair would be enough. I didn't listen to the woodworking devil in my head telling me, "You idiot. You'll need at least 4 clamps of every size you have." This turns out to be a huge tactical error. When I built my 3' pipe clamps, I made four of them, and having 4 of them is a godsend. Along with the bar clamps I have, I can pretty much clamp anything that is shorter than 3 feet long. Anything bigger than that, and we start running into problems.

To tackle this problem, I decided today would be a good day to make sub-assemblies of the short sides of the table. Then when I get a couple more long clamps, I can tie the two sub assemblies together and then I'll be good to go.

Glue-up went solidly and there wasn't too much mess since I've learned that flooding a mortise and tenon joint doesn't do much for it other than just squeeze out glue everywhere that I'd have to clean up. I was fairly frugal with the glue, so most was cleaned up with a wet rag. The rest are on surfaces I plan to plane and sand, so that will go away quickly.

Now that I have these taken care of, I have to find some pipe clamp fixtures. I know the orange Borg sells the pipe I need, but for some stupid reason, they stopped selling Jorgensen clamps. They had Irwins for a little bit (which I completely passed on), and now they have Bessey clamps. I'm happy about the Besseys on one hand because they sell K-body Revo clamps there, and when I get the nerve (and money) to buy parallel clamps, that's probably what I'm getting, but I don't want their pipe clamp fixtures. I have the Jorgensen Pony fixtures, and I love them. They're indestructible and they clamp strongly. They're also cheap and (used to be) readily available. I think Ace still sells them, so I may have to pay a visit over there one day.

This table will probably sort itself out in the next couple of days, so there's not much to update on it. I will be glad when I have it done. Then I'll have another assembly area that's a little lower so I don't have to try to reach above my head to drive nails and screws and potentially destroy my fluorescent lighting in my garage.

Small steps...I'll get it done.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Small Assembly Table, part 1

If there was anything I didn't like about my setup for woodworking right now aside from the obvious fact that my garage isn't quite clean and organized enough for me to have my tools in permanent spots, it's the fact that my table saw and outfeed table are my primary assembly areas. This isn't much of a problem when it comes to small parts. On bigger projects, though, I've had moments when the pieces were really close to the ceiling and smashing my fluorescent lights is not my idea of a good time.

I decided to build a small assembly table for things like making drawers and various other small parts. It can also double as a good finishing table. I have some space outside my garage that's covered with a tarp canopy, and I like working there since sometimes the sawdust in the garage gets a little out of hand, even with my dust separator and vacuum.

In an effort to try and keep the price of this thing down, I'm making this table out of 2x4s and a sheet of BC plywood and masonite. I had flirted with the idea of making a torsion box for the top, but I think I'll do that if I want to make a bigger assembly table later. It would cost me a lot more to do that since I'd probably burn a sheet of 3/4 plywood and a couple sheets of 1/4 plywood to do that, and the top would probably cost more than this table I'm making now.

To make the top, I doubled up the plywood and glued and screwed it together. To help keep this thing in decent shape outside, I'm finishing it with some spar urethane and I already finished the bottom side of the top. I'll finish the rest of it when the table is assembled.

Since I wanted to maintain some sense of "refinement" when it comes to this table, I decided that I was going to build it with mortise and tenon joinery for the frame. I made some 2x2 posts for the legs and then I made some other pieces that are 1x3 by cutting and planing some of the 2x4s. It's amazing how much easier things go together when you have stock that is more properly prepared, relatively flat, and square. Many 2x4s don't come that way stock.

These used to be 2x4s.
I cut the mortises in the legs (but didn't take a photo). I was going to use the drill press and drill out the mortises, but then I found that I do have a 1/2" spiral bit for my router. I then decided that I was going to cut the mortises on my router table. I learned really quick that may not have been the best idea. My spiral bit is made of high speed steel, not carbide (I wasn't into spending $90 for a spiral bit), so the cuts weren't the greatest. I'm definitely going to have to pick up some other bits for cutting mortises.

I was going to cut tenons today and build the frame, but someone was good enough to give me a cold, so I think I'm going to be laid up for a couple of days recovering and breathing pine sawdust probably isn't going to help me get better. I also have to get my truck fixed since I found that one of my brake lines is leaking and  having a truck that doesn't really stop isn't exactly my idea of safety. Luckily brake lines are cheap, so hopefully it won't cost me too much to get that fixed unless there's a bigger problem. I'm thinking it may be time to start looking into a new truck. I've had my truck for 12 years already and the truck is 21 years old total, so I have a feeling I may be due for a new one.

I'll hopefully get this thing done this week and then I'll have a better assembly table to work with. It's really frustrating to have to deal with this cold. I rarely get sick, but it seems that when I do, it's always serious. I need a couple days to get over it. I hate it.