Category Archives: Projects

Adjusting my drawers

No, this post has absolutely nothing to do with my underwear. Although, it could be a good place for me to store them… especially since I like to wear high quality skivvies from places like Duluth Trading.

Some nice buck naked boxer briefs

It is, instead, an article of about how I built the drawers on the bed. After my angst-ridden debate on how I was going to make things happen, I decided to build the drawers using pocket screw joinery. First, I had to measure the size of the opening. I was going to put the pocket screws through the front and backs of the drawers into the sides, and I also needed to account for one inch on the inside of the drawer width to account for the drawer runners. So, I did the best thing I could have possibly done.

Stacked

That’s right, I left my tape measure on the bench and stacked the two drawer sides and my 1-2-3 measuring block into place, and marked how long I needed the fronts and backs to be. This way, I was positive I was getting exactly the measurement instead of trying to read the right tick mark on my tape measure – and getting it wrong.

Boring pocket holes

With the pieces all cut, I hopped quickly over to my pocket hole jig and started blasting out holes. It’s always amazing to see just how quickly you can cut joints with that sucker.

Drawer assembly

Using some clamps, a little glue and some screws, I was able to snug the drawers together and screw everything together in very short order. Instead of plowing dadoes for the drawer bottoms, I decided to just glue and nail them on. I figure that the runners I use mount to the bottom of the drawers, and they will hide the side of the bottom boards.

The drawers

Again, that made things very easy for assembly. I was also able to use the drawer bottoms to ensure that the entire assembly was perfectly square – an important next step in the process.

Using some inexpensive 3/4 extension bottom mount Euro drawer glides, it took very little time to get the drawers mounted and gliding perfectly, Since I am building the bed as a frameless cabinet, the next step will be to build some drawer faces to attach, and I will be just about done with this project.

The first drawer in place

Oh, by the way, I used a very similar – and hopefully clever – way to create night stands for the bed. Using a simple piece of piece of plywood and some 18 inch drawer glides, I was able to create flat surfaces for both sides of the bed. This way, Rhonda and I can put our books, electronics and other items down next to the bed.

Night stand

And, if we don’t need them, we can push them out of the way, totally hidden.

Night stand, closed

Rhonda likes this feature, since it creates a less cluttered, more compact bed area. Not too shabby…

The weekly plan

The Family Handyman’s table saw crosscut sled

Sure, you can use a miter gauge for crosscuts, but once a panel you want to crosscut gets much beyond 12 inches or so in width, you are going to need to step up your game and think bigger. That’s why there are a plethora of plans out there.

The Family Handyman Crosscut sled

This one, offered by the Family Handyman magazine, is simple to build and can bring a lot of accuracy to your project.

Oh, and if you want to make it even easier to build, MicroJig has a product called the ZeroPlay guide, which can simplify your construction and make your jig just a little bit more accurate.

Headboard, footboard

OK, so I’m in bed phase… and things have gone swimmingly so far. The cabinets are in place and bolted together.  But, wow, I don’t want to look at that footboard. Plus, I need something a little bit more – how shall I put this – stately for a headboard than just the painted wall.

So, I set about building a headboard and a footboard for the bed. This way, I could hide the seam where the cabinets are joined, and give the bed a more finished appearance.

http://tomsworkbench.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/1420140839782.jpg

Since I was going to make both the headboard and footboard out of the same plywood I was using for the cabinets, I started by using my edge taping trick to cut a matching veneer for the exposed edge of the plywood. That was easy with the table saw, some glue and a little blue painter’s tape.

The back boards

From there, I cut some alder boards to serve as posts for the bed. My plan was to face glue two boards together, cutting out the inside one to fit the head and footboard to make a strong assembly. I figured a one inch inset would be plenty strong for this, so I scribed a one inch line down the side of the two ‘back’ boards of the stack.

Layout

The next step was to lay the pieces on these scribed back boards to show what I had to cut away to fit the pieces. The footboard, since it was square, was a piece of cake. The headboard, which had a curve, was a whole lot more important to lay out to make sure the fit was perfect.

CuttingWith the marks in place, it was a quick trip to the band saw to slice away what wasn’t necessary. I love the band saw for work like this because it’s just so darned easy.

The assembly

With the cut made, I glued and tacked the two boards together, then glued and screwed the panels into place, fitting exactly in the area I cut. For some reason, this photo looks slanted,but I assure you that the ends of the board were indeed square.

The footboard

Just a few screws through the cabinet into the head and footboards made these things rock solid, and I just love the way the headboard looks with its graceful curve.

The headboardAll that’s left to do now is to build six drawers and finish the piece. Yes, we plan on finishing it in place in the room (with the mattress and bedding removed, of course), which means water based stain and finish – a first for me. This should prove interesting, but so far, I can’t tell you how happy I am that this is working out well.

Make your bed!

Oh, how I hated doing chores while I was growing up. Weed the flower beds. Shovel snow. Clean up the dishes after dinner.

And, make your bed. It was a chore I couldn’t understand why it was so important. I mean, yes, my dad was a Marine, and my mom loved to keep a neat house, but it seemed like such a waste of time, neatly folding and straightening out the sheets and blankets only to mess them up again later when I tucked in for the night. But, it was a big deal, and even though I couldn’t understand it, I just knew it was trouble if I didn’t take care of it.

Well, Mom and Dad, I’m making my bed. From scratch now. Yes, I’m building a new bed for Rhonda and me, and it’s about time. The original bed we bought when we first got married had served us well. It just was missing one critical thing in our basementless Florida home – storage. So, I set about to build something with a little storage that would be something a little stylish.

Cutting

It all started, as you might imagine, with getting some supplies at our local home improvement center. I had the folks there cut the sheets down to the basic sizes so they would be easier to get home. And, you bet, it made carrying this stuff a whole lot easier.

Ply in the shop

Once I had the goodies in the shop, it was a simple matter of carefully marking where things had to be cut and where joinery had to be plowed out.

Marking where things belong

I turned to my router for most of the dadoes, since the pieces were very large. The rule of thumb is if it’s small enough, bring it to the tool (plow out those dadoes on the table saw), if it’s too large, bring the tool to the wood (routers).

routing the dadoes

 

With the dadoes plowed and pieces cut, it was a snap to move to the next step, which is a great tip I remember from Norm Abrams’ master opus when he built his kitchen cabinets – drill a pilot hole through the dadoes on the cut side, so later, when you go to assemble the pieces, you know exactly where to put the screws.

drill those holes

With the pilots drilled, it was time to assemble. I grabbed my glue bottle and a huge box of screws and set to work. The pieces needed only the slightest encouragement to drop into the dadoes, which meant I had done a good job getting the joints to fit tightly.

assemble the cases

The screws were there to ensure that the piece would remain tight throughout its lifetime. With a whole lot of effort, and some skinned knuckles, I managed to get the cabinets together.

A completed cabinet

Since a queen size mattress is 60 inches wide, I opted to build the piece as two cabinet halves and bolted them together. This way, Rhonda has a set of three drawers on her side of the bed, and I have a set on mine. It also allowed me to move each half into place,  lessening the weight and making them more maneuverable as I threaded my way through the living room into the bedroom.

The bed in place

Once in place, I bolted the two halves together and put the mattress on top. That was plenty of work for one day. I figured I could work on building the head and footboards and drawers and move them into place as they are finished, making more room in  my shop to move around.

As far as the old bed goes, well, our neighbor’s daughter is moving out to her own place soon, so I was thinking we could offer her the headboard, footboard, frame and box spring to her so she can set up her bedroom. No sense letting it go to waste.

Stuff I’ve built: My shoe rack

What has gotten into me? I spent most of the summer kind of lazing around, barely able to get out into the shop. Now, you can’t keep me out!  I’ve been bitten by the bug.

Nice shine, Steve

So, last week, I built a shoe shine box. And, on Friday, I came home from work to shine my shoes (actually, I had Steven shine them, but that’s a whole other story…) So, they were looking good, but the problem was that I was just throwing them onto the floor of my closet. Now, how the heck were they going to stay nice and shiny?  It was time for me to get off my behind and add to the organization… by building a shoe rack.

The former shelf

It was insanely easy to build, and while it didn’t involve a lot of fancy joinery, it is serving its purpose well. I started with a Douglas fir board that a friend gave to me when she was having work done at her house. It had been finished with some varnish, but that was easy for me to peel off using my thickness planer. Fortunately, the board had little twist in it, and it was beautifully clear. I planed it down until I had a nice uniform thickness – approximately 1 1/4 inches thick. I then straight line ripped both board edges until I had a piece that was four-square.

Thin strip ripping jig

Since the idea I had worked on separate slats, I set up my table saw using my Infinity thin strip ripping jig to ensure I was going to get consistent strips for the piece. I used a spacer to get 1/2″ thick strips for the cross slats, and set up for 3/4″ strips for the end pieces.

Crosscut

With the strips ripped, I turned to my Osborne EB-3 gauge to cut my strips for the end pieces to the right size – four 9 inches long, and three 7 inches long. That was a piece of cake.

GlueupI turned next to my square assembly jig for the glue ups. I laid out the pieces, alternating the long and short ones. I used some 3/4″ spacers to set the short pieces at the right height. Once I had those suckers lined up, I turned to the glueup.

Feel the pressure

It took some juggling, but I was able to get all of the pieces lined up, glued up and clamped up. As you can see, I glued up both sides at once, making this run a little faster. Of course, I had to remember to not glue the two middle pieces together…

After I got these babies out of the clamps, I ran both assembled sides through my thickness planer again to clean them up. That went faster than sanding, and it gave me a very good look. Remember, you just want to skim them, not remove a ton of material.

Assembled.

After that I cut the cross pieces that were 1/2″ thick to 26 inches wide. They fit perfectly into the slots formed by the short pieces. It was a snug fit, and that was good. I dabbed some glue onto the upright pieces and used my brad nailer to tack one brad into every intersection. Were the brads overkill? Who cares… they worked!

Now with shoes!

I sanded, paying special attention to round over the corners of all the boards. Douglas fir can be very splintery… Once I dusted the piece off, I could have finished it, but I just opted to set it on the floor of the closet and start stacking my shoes onto it. I might finish it later, but who knows, maybe there will be another project I want to start!

Stuff I’ve built: The shine box

So, at work, my bosses asked me to dress up a little bit more, which means no more work boots for me – unless, of course, I’m working on conditions like these:

Heavy weather

This now means that I’m going to be wearing more dress shoes. With dress shoes comes the inevitable chore of shining those dress shoes. Now, my dad served in the Marine Corps, and he is a whiz at shining shoes. He keeps his kit in an old Griffin Shinemaster box. It’s a classic.

Griffin Shinemaster

While it’s a neat, self contained design, a different shine kit caught my attention – the Esquire Footman Deluxe. (Dang, I need a hobby).

Esquire Footman

There’s something about this design that I really like. For instance, I can get at the items in the kit mid-shine with the open design, instead of having to take all the stuff out and lay the items on the floor, or ask the shoe shinee (is that a real term?) to move his or her foot to get that forgotten item.

Fortunately, there are TONS of these babies for sale on eBay, and the sellers all provide measurements, so I knew the kit would have to come in at about 11 inches from end to end, stand about 10 inches tall and be about 7 inches across. I had a board of some unknown wood (maybe one of you species types can help me out) that had been in my shop for the better part of ten years. Once I planed it down, it was the right width and looked handsome.

Plane down the edge

I started by cutting the two end pieces, and shaping a taper on the bottom halves of the boards, This is a very minor design feature, but I think it makes the piece look a little more graceful. I could have tried to taper in on the band saw or table saw, but a hand plane did the job in no time flat.

Getting groovy

After that, I used a 1/4″ router bit to rout a series of grooves into each of the side pieces. Since my plan was to capture the 1/2″ thick dividers in these grooves with 1/4″ tabs, I knew I had to make mirror images of each side so they would fit into the grooves. It took some mental gymnastics, but the grooves came out looking pretty sweet, with just a minimum amount of chisel work to make things perfect. And, yes, I did bevel the edges of the piece before I grooved it to ensure that the grooves would parallel the outside of the box profile.

Now, that's pretty groovy

Some quick work with a rasp helped curve the top of the box sides, making it look a little more elegant.

Feeling raspy

From there, I marked out where I wanted the top handle/step to live. I kept that piece at 3 inches wide to allow for a secure step, so I mated the two end pieces together and notched out the 3 inch wide by half inch deep recess for the board to sit in.

Make the notch

Once I did this, I cut the top piece to size, and made a rabbet on the end, ensuring the 3/4″ thick top piece could fit snugly into the 1/2″ deep notch, making a great fit that registered against the side of the box.

Snug in the notch

From there, I milled down the side pieces to 1/2″ thick, then using a rabbeting bit in my router table, gave each piece a 1/4″ thick by 1/4″ long ‘tab’ that would fit into the grooves.

Don't stick your tongue out at me!

I knew that only the bottom board would be glued in place, as it wouldn’t have a cross-grain situation. The dividers that break the piece into compartments just float freely. Assembly took a little bit of time to get everything into its respective groove, but it worked out great. I just took my time, glued the bottom board, slid the bottom and dividers in, then tapped the handle/foot rest into place, and clamped everything up.

Assembly detaisAfter the glue dried, I sanded everything down, then opted for several coats of lacquer for the finish. First, because it’s an easy, quick finish to apply that gives great results. But, also because it’s a spray, which can get down into the assembled compartments, saving me the work of having to reach in there with a rag or brush.

Assembled and lacquered

I really dig the front compartment with the cutouts that holds the cans of wax. The large compartment is easy to reach for the brush, applicators and shine rag. It’s solid as a rock, and just the right size for me to stash in the closet for when I need it. And, the beauty of it all – this truly was a one-weekend project, with the work being done in about four hours.

Nice shine, Steve

How well does it work? Well, I may need to make another one soon to give my son Steven, so he can start building his college fund. Hey, son, I have a nickel with your name on it!

Stuff I’ve built: The work trestle table

Wow, I have to be feeling better. The table I needed for work started out just a few short weeks ago as a 2 x 12, and now it’s home in my office, ready for me to conduct meetings, spread out and do some serious work.

The table in my office

This project was definitely a thought exercise for me. Could I build a project out of a simple piece of southern yellow pine construction lumber that I would like to use in my office, and had I accumulated the right tools and skills to build a classic trestle table?

From the first moments of picking out the board at the Lowe’s near my house, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. The 16 foot long 2 x 12 I chose was loaded with quarter sawn, nearly blemish free pieces that would easily become a top. While southern yellow pine is tough stuff, it still cuts great and planes very well as well.

That's a Nice Ash plane!

This project gave me some great freedom to design a classic looking piece using some tools – such as my scrub planes and Mortise Pal - that I usually never break out. I think the results look pretty darned decent.

The angled mortise

I also was able to convince myself that I could cut the angled through mortise that could hold the wedge to secure the base for this piece. Sure, I had my doubts, but a little patience and some sharp chisels go a long way toward accomplishing goals that seem out of your grasp.

Applying the milk paint

For the finish on the base, I went with some pitch black Old Fashioned Milk Paint to give it a classic look. I topped the paint with a coat of paste wax to prevent too much wear, but I figured now if the paint does start to wear off in strategic locations, it will only make the piece look that much more sweet.

The top took a coat of shellac, followed by a sanding with some 320 grit sandpaper. After that, I hit it with four coats of my wipe on finish blend. After that, I wiped on two coats of thinned poly just to give the table a little bit more protection from spills.

The table just before it left my shop

Now, it’s at home in my office, giving me a place to sit and contemplate my next project.