Category Archives: Projects

Next up…

OK, so it’s been a crazy few weeks for me.

First, there was Get Woodworking Week, which I am certain has been praised in song and story. Then, there was this little thing I did called leaving my job of 21 years to take a new position, and I am working on wrapping things up before taking this new promotion that will take me across Tampa Bay to the neighboring county.

Norm
I also got onto eBay and picked up a copy of an old favorite book written by an old TV friend. This was one of the first books I had ever checked out from the library when I was just s young beginning woodworker. There’s something about the work – especially the early works of Norm – that is just comforting. Before flashy ads and high-end post production, Norm was out there, helping dolts like me to get their foot in the door to build projects of our own.

One of the projects in this book will be my next one. and it will be very important to me. I can’t yet say what it is, but believe me, I have the lumber…

The cherry boards ready for workAnd, I have a special piece of wood that I was given which has been saved for years and handed to me recently for inclusion in this very project.

roundWhile this will be very similar to some projects I have built in the past, I am looking forward to using some of my new tools – my table saw, my router table, my MicroJig push blocks – to do a safer, more accurate and better job than I ever have before.

Time to make some new memories.

About face(s)

As you may have guessed from yesterday’s plan of the week, the bed I am building is basically a pair of frameless cabinets. This means that unlike North American cabinetry, there are no face frames, meaning that the drawer faces have to cover the openings and dividers between the drawer cabinets.

Face Frame vs. Frameless cabinets

It’s not a better system. It’s not a worse system. It’s just different, and just as with face frame cabinetry, it poses a set of unique challenges that need to be overcome.

Story stick

So, I started out making a story stick. Basically, you have to start with some quality measurements, and there’s no way to get more accurate ones than by taking direct measurements. I had attached a strip of plywood to the bottom of the cabinet faces before I placed them in the room, so I accounted for that in addition to the other strips and pieces I had to cut.

Table Saw setup

Using the story stick, I set up the table saw fence so I was absolutely positive that I was going to be on the money when it came time to cut. Again, instead of remembering fractional measurements, I used the exact measurements, making this brainless.

Tile spacers

Another handy little trick I used to ensure that everything was going to work was I picked up a bag of 1/8″ tile spacers at my local home improvement center. Since the kerf on a full-sized blade is exactly 1/8″, using these spacers allowed me to throw away the tape measure and ensure that everything was spaced properly when I did the layout. Why didn’t I think about doing this years ago?

Spacers in placers

One I cut the top strip free from the piece of plywood I was using for drawer faces, I was able to use the spacers to properly align the top strip and attach it using pocket screws, and measure out the drawer faces. They were easy to mark out by simply tilting the entire piece out toward me and using the cubby dividers to mark where everything had to go.

Check out these drawers

After I cut the pieces for each drawer free, I simply went back and screwed them in place. As you can see, I didn’t go for pulls for the drawers. Instead, I used a pattern I had built a long time ago to cut out handles on another project, and went that route to allow for the drawers to be opened and closed. Why? Well, Rhonda asked me if I was absolutely, positively sure that no one would ever bang his or her leg against a handle in the middle of the night.

Good point.

Now, all that’s left to do is a little bit of sanding, some finishing and a whole butt load of gloating. I think this one is just about done!

The final push

So, did anyone happen to hear about a big football game that happened last night?

Super Bowl Interception

Rumor has it that there was some big play at the end of the game that determined the outcome. Maybe I should pay better attention to these things…

Part of the reason why I wasn’t into the big game was that I was busy pushing to the last parts of the bed project. Yes, my sinus/double ear/bronchitis issue slowed me down, so this weekend, I had to finish the last of the drawers. It took some time, but each of the drawers was relatively easy to finish, and they all roll like a dream on the 3/4 extension hardware that I picked up for the project.

The drawers in place

Now that they are all in, the next step is to create the drawer fronts that will cover these drawer boxes and unify the sides of the bed. Since these cabinets are built without face frames, it’s going to be critical that I get everything lined up nicely so the fronts look balanced. The added bonus is that they will also serve as drawer stops, preventing me from pushing the drawers in too deep.

After that, I will need to put the finish on this project. Again, I am going with some water based finish, which should make this look pretty sweet and limit the amount of fumes in the house.

The next project is waiting...

And, I had better get that done soon, because the wood for the next project has already arrived. What will it be? I can’t tell you, but I know that there is a young lady who will be expecting it sometime in the not too distant future!

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.