Category Archives: Projects

Woodworking: First Cutting Board from Scratch Project (Part 3 of 3)

I left off last week with the planks cut up and ready to glue up.

The first step to gluing always is to dry fit. If the boards do not fit perfectly together before the glue is applied, adding glue won’t overcome that permanently. Sure, glue may work initially, but the bond will be weak, and the split will reform eventually.

Then for the glue. I used Titebond III because it’s written up pretty much everywhere as the glue for things that contact water a lot. Some say that Titebond II is enough, but why risk it?

Also I’ve had this glue for a long time, so why not use it? The hope is that it hasn’t gone bad.

With such a small board, the clamps on one side might be good enough, but just in case the push from the bottom would cause the pieces upward while drying, I put clamps on to better balance out the direction of the push.

The part I hate the most is waiting for it to dry. There’s debate as to how long you really have to let a glue-up stay in the clamps. I don’t usually have enough going on to need to free up the clamps so fast, so I like to leave whatever it is in the clamps at least overnight.

With the glue dry, I popped the board out of the clamps and got ready to plane.

The unevenness of the pieces makes sanding as the first smoothing step impossible. Planing accomplishes that goal quickly and repeatedly. So I sharpened the iron of the plane and got to work.

OK I got to work to get the strips of glue out with the tiny plane, but then I really go to work with the Stanley No. 5 plane.

Here are a bunch of progress photos in a row:

And then look what I got!

Oooooh, right?

With the table saw setup and a need for a larger jig to get a straight cut, I realized that I could get the excess off easily with my belt sander.

I held a bubble level to it as the belt sander removed more and more material to make sure that the end result wouldn’t be all cattywampus.

I raised the grain to make to make a smooth surface after the sanding.

I sanded the board from 80+ to 220+. And when I felt the surface, the back of my hand slid on the edge, and I ended up with a decent slice. I didn’t expect that to be the reason to call it a cutting board.

So I decided to put a chamfer on the edge so it would be easier (safer?) to handle.

And then it was time to prep for oil.

And then apply the oil.

Check out next week’s post for the first installment of a series about a second, more complicated cutting board.

Woodworking: First Cutting Board from Scratch Project (Part 2)

I left off last week ready to make my first cuts with my table saw.

I had purchased maple and walnut that I was ready to crosscut because the table saw is small, and my confidence in ripping (cutting with the grain) was lower than my confidence in crosscutting (against the grain). I figured that ripping smaller pieces would be better in the even of drift.

Should I have practiced with wood I didn’t care about so I could preserve the wood I needed? Probably! Did I? No.

And how could I not use the 3D printed crosscut pusher my cousin printed for me?

I went with the maple first. It was thinner than the walnut, so it would just be smooth going. I practiced a few times with the table saw unplugged to adjust the blade and make sure the pusher moved easily. Then it was time to plug it in and cut.

And then I sustained my first injuries. I knew they were happening, but there was little I could do before it was too late.

Of course, this picture is from later when the mosquito bites became clearly visible.

I was out for vengeance.

I got my vengeance and some of my blood back.

With that mosquito eliminated, it was on to the cutting.

Hooboy was that fun! My first two cuts were smooth and easy with the pusher. Of course, without a crosscut sled, the small table is better suited for smaller pieces for crosscutting.

Crosscutting walnut was more challenging.

The walnut boards were slightly thicker than the cutting depth of the blade. No matter, I had figured. I would just cut through all the way one way and then flip over and cut off the other side.

But I ran into an issue pretty quickly: The riving knife-cover assembly doesn’t provide clearance for a board to pass over it only partially cut. I hadn’t foreseen this. I don’t know how I hadn’t, but I hadn’t.

So it was an exercise in flipping.

When I ran out of room to cut through a board, I flipped it over back and forth and back and forth to cut the newly accessible parts. Absolutely it was sketchy. Using this small setup and the blade guard and everything, it was lower risk of big injury.

While I was proud of myself for the success I’d had, after crosscutting the two boards, I didn’t want to go through that process again.

So I moved to one of my favorite tools.

I took a little bit of material off with the plane at a time, and that took a while. But the alternative was trying to rip and flip and rip and flip. I had zero interest in that.

Finally I got the boards to proper thickness, and I ripped away.

I was proud of the consistency of my ripping work as a first-time solo user of a table saw.

More next week.

Woodworking: First Cutting Board from Scratch Project (Part 1)

When Calah and I were choosing things to put on our wedding registry, Calah and I debated the legitimacy of adding a table saw. I was in favor of putting it on, as evidenced by me having done so. Calah was opposed.

So I broke down why the table saw (and other tools) were not just reasonable and appropriate.

First I asked what she had against the table saw. She took the position that the gifts on the registry are intended for both the bride and groom. I agreed and said that that’s why the table saw should be on there. She disagreed and said that that’s why it shouldn’t be on there.

So I brought up that kitchenware and cooking appliances are standard items.

I understood that I was at a slight disadvantage with this point because both Calah and I cook, so kitchen items would benefit both of us directly. I had to go the conceptual route: Generally it isn’t the case that both members of the couple are involved in baking and cooking, and that just because we’re nonstandard in that doesn’t change the fact that people are totally cool with that inequity.

“But cookware benefits both of them because food is made for both.”

Well, my woodworking projects benefit both of us. Whether it’s turning junk furniture into something good or making something from scratch, it’s not just for one of us after all.

The table saw stayed on the registry.

Woohoo!

Now, I hadn’t owned a table saw before, so I watched a lot of videos on YouTube to make sure I didn’t slice my fingers off. The chance was lower because the table saw has less than a 3/4″ cutting depth, and I was certainly going to install the riving knife assembly with the shield, but I still didn’t want to play it wrong.

What I saw over and over was that it’s beneficial to have a sled for crosscutting. Essentially, you build a tray with skis that fit into the slots on the table so you can push the piece of wood through while never putting your fingers in harm’s way.

That sounded great to me, except that with such a low cutting depth, how could I take up any of that space? I turned to reddit, and I got advice to use hard plastic or 1/8″ high-density fiberboard.

Ultimately, I turned to the world of 3D printing and asked my cousin to print a thing I had found specifically for this table saw:

Proxxon FET Guide by USG on Thingiverse.

Rather than having the board underneath, I’d just have the pusher.

Unfortunately for me, my cousin was prepping to be out of town for a month, so I’d have to wait until his return.

I went to my local hardwood supplier, House of Hardwood in West LA, and I picked up some walnut and maple from the scrap area.

Finally my cousin got back.

He printed out the pusher, and it fit right on. I mean, I had to knock off a little bit of excess plastic, but once I did that, it was perfect.

I set up the my dust collection system (aka my vacmaster), attached the table saw to my coffee table workbench, made sure all moving parts were clear of obstruction, and then I plugged everything in. I was ready to make my first cuts.

More next week.

Woodworking: Kitchen Cart Workbench Project (Part 2)

Last week I left off having installed the mounts for the vise to this workbench.

The focus this week was to attach the mounts for the belt sander disc sander combo.

This stage was delayed dramatically by the excessive winds we have had in LA and the rain in LA. I also diverted a lot of my time on Sunday to my next project, a cutting board from scratch. You’ll see this workbench in the next series without the anchors for anything but the vise.

As usual, I started out with drawing where the holes would be.

And to keep the holes vertical, I made use of the bubble level.

I stepped up one bit at a time so as to avoid any mistakes.

They were shaping up nicely.

Cleaning up the debris took about five seconds with the Vacmaster.

For easier insertion of the anchors while preserving maximum bite, I drilled out the tops of each hole to make it stepped.

See?

And there. I didn’t care about the tearout because this is a workbench.

Finally time to put in the anchors. There are only two mounting holes for this belt sander disc sander combo. I think if I’d designed it, I’d have made it with three or four mounts, but the manufacturer clearly thought that would be overkill. And in my uses of it to date, I haven’t yet disagreed.

That wouldn’t do, of course.

Far superior.

Perfect.

Same process for the other anchor,

All six mounts flat against the surface. No protrusions and full grip. Very proud!

But did I align it properly?

Yes!

And yes!

Next week will be the conclusion of this series with the installation of the table saw. I won’t take the same approach as I had for the coffee table for a reason you’ll see then.

Woodworking: Kitchen Cart Workbench Project (Part 1)

Years ago I got an IKEA kitchen island from a couple that was moving. and was going to discard this piece of furniture had I not relieved them of it. While writing this, I have learned that the item is the FÖRHÖJA, and a new one costs a little more than $100.

FÖRHÖJA From the IKEA website.

When I got it, the surface was covered with contact paper. Why was it covered in contact paper? Ostensibly it was there to protect the wood surface from food, but that’s weird, and it didn’t work out because knives used on it cut right through. You know, obviously.

I removed the contact paper and used Goo Gone to get the goo, you know, gone.

I have no pictures of this process because it was long before the woodworking blog.

For a long time, the drawers were used for decks of cards, pens, Post-it pads. The shelves had board gams for a while, but that gave way to a storing some of my larger tools.

With acquisition of additional furniture, we ran out of room for this cart. While I like my coffee table workbench, I figured the cart could be great for doing work while standing up. Whoa, right?

The idea is the same as for the coffee table workbench: embed mounts in the surface to allow me to install and remove the various tools and clamps sustainably.

Once I’d taken down the sukkah that had been on the balcony, it was time to start work making mounts for my vise.

Just like with the coffee table, I’d start with sinking the mounts for the vise into the corner.

And initially that means drawing the circles from the base holes onto the table. I had some flexibility, but a better fit is better.

I started with the 1/8″ drill bit and worked my way up from there. In order to make sure that I was on target with the holes, I put the vise over the holes. I also decided to hold a bubble level against the back of my drill to ensure that the holes were vertical to make my life easier later.

I got the final holes almost perfectly in the circles and well within the error tolerance. I went one bit beyond where I needed in order to sink the anchors flush with the table surface.

Mounts like these are notorious for being tough to get in straight. As you can see, they’re all wonky when dropped in place without adjustment. Vertically drilled holes would not overcome a poorly inserted anchor.

It was painstaking work, but I got the first one in flat.

While the second one looked pretty good from this angle,

other angles proved less accommodating.

Good thing it’s not complicated to resolve.

Two down, two to go.

And then there was one.

The concept remained the same.

And so did the result.

It’s a four of a kind…

…and a flush at the same time!

Note the knife scars because contact paper doesn’t (and shouldn’t) protect that way!

Success at alignment!

Pretty, right?

I’d say so!

More in next week’s post!

Woodworking: Coffee Table Workbench Project (revisited)

I am going to have yet another workbench project coming up because I’ll be moving a piece of furniture outdoors — one I can stand up and use.

————————

I don’t have a dedicated workbench or permanent shop.

That makes things difficult when I have pretty much any project.

I had picked up a discarded round coffee table years ago that I’d more recently attached my vise to, as featured in a prior post.

But since I knew I would have to turn the table back into a table after using the vise, I put anchors into the table so I could make the process easy and stable.

This proved to be reliable, and I had used this setup since May of this year, but the table was just too unstable, and the roundness and rockiness of table were making for a difficult surface for other projects.

As luck would have it, I found another abandoned table a couple weeks ago. It just screamed, “I’m a balcony workbench!”

At least to me.

Under the street lights, it looked like solid wood.

Issues with it were the flaking polyurethane, the horrid design, and the aphorisms.

Clearly someone had put in a lot of effort, but yikes.

Armed with my new Vacmaster 6 gallon, 3 HP shop vacuum, I was ready to do stuff with less concern for making everything dusty.

My dad commended me for having R2D2 help me out.

Also instead of the 2AH batteries I’d been using for my sander, I now have 5AH batteries!

The designs were going pretty quickly with even pressure on the random orbital sander with the 80+ grit cubitron sandpaper.

I started to realize that it wasn’t solid wood but veneer. But that’s not so bad.

I also didn’t need to get all the design off.

Protecting the surface was imperative. This is the time of year I see a lot of termites around, and I’m not interested in giving them free meals.

I let the table dry before moving on to the anchors!

Penciling in where the holes should be would make for a reduced chance of error.

And then for the anchors themselves.

It looks in this photo a little more crooked than it is.

OK the vise is done.

Moving on to the tabletop belt sander-disc sander combo.

I did the same penciling in.

Anchors installed and ready to rock.

The sander and vise on opposite ends of the table means that both can be up at the same time.

But there was one more thing I had to install.

My benchtop table saw!

Pencil first again and then drilling out the holes.

I had to use smaller diameter anchors because the inside allows only for smaller bolts.

And they fit into place.

I chose that space for maximal outfeed area.

I expect to have lots of projects with this setup.

And my new shop vacuum did an amazing job. Full cleanup took almost no effort.

Woodworking: Repairing the First Step-Up End Table (Part 1)

As I put the newly completed end tables into service, I needed to find a new place for the first one I’d worked on. But over time, the table had tanned, and I saw the outline of a book that had been resting on it. Also I hadn’t reapplied teak oil like I should have, and there were some things I hadn’t addressed in my first go because I didn’t have a plane back then.

It was going to be a quick and easy project.

And it started off going as I’d planned.

Look at the coloration difference!

I was going to plane it to get rid of all the unevenness from the gluing I’d done way back when that I’d mistakenly thought I could sand off.

One key section of this unevenness was in the front with what should have been a consistent rounded-off edge. Keep in mind I do not have a router.

When I started the planing, the pronounced unevenness made me happy because it was something I knew I had to resolve.

I kept going and was thrilled at the quick progress.

As I continued across, the uneven spots were becoming more pronounced and then eliminated.

I was thrilled at how well the project was going.

Sure, there were some gaps to address, but those wouldn’t be anything that some homemade filler couldn’t repair, right? RIGHT?!

The crack going all the way through shouldn’t pose a threat.

Well, it was too wiggly for me to be comfortable with keeping it that way. The amount of play allowed me to snap the board apart the weak glue joint.

As I didn’t have a planer the last time I’d attempted gluing this up, I was limited by sanding off the old glue. But that made for a less-than-perfect gluing situation.

This time would be different!

I was happy to use my new coffee table workbench setup to mount my vise for the planing.

Once the faces matched one another, I glued up the boards.

Clamping a board in place would keep the project flat and reduce my new planing time. The wax paper protected the wood block from the glue.

Areas that needed wood filler got it, but this was all for superficial repair. The structural work had been done.

I planed it to remove any jagged anything and then sanded from 80+ to 180+ with the DeWalt random orbital sander.

And then it was finally on to the step that had initially seemed like it would happen so early on: application of teak oil.

I’ll wrap this one up next week and then start on something new.

Woodworking: Cutting Board Project

Since I’d gotten a table saw, I figured I’d make a cutting board. So I went down to House of Hardware to pick up some pieces of wood from the scrap area. I found some walnut and some maple, and I had the plans in my head already as to how to combine those.

And I will be making that as a cutting board. That will be its own series. That’s not this standalone post.

But I also came upon some pieces of oak butcher block scrap. I didn’t ask, but I guessed that there were counters that were made, and there was more counter than necessary. They cut the piece in half for me, which saved me some work.

So I purchased the maple, walnut, and oak. The oak would be my first project. This project.

The ends were uneven, and I considered using my plane for this type of work.

And then I remembered.

My new coffee table workbench has the mounts for my tabletop belt sander!

And I’d get to test how effective my vacuum is with this machine.

Sanded (below) compared do unsanded (above)

The sander did wonders–and fast! Consistent sanding for a flat edge.

Now, I don’t have a router, and I wanted to round the edges. I could use the belt sander for that, too!

rounded edge (above) non-rounded (below)

I continued.

I liked being able to compare it to the other piece.

After that, I used my DeWalt random orbital sander to go from 80+ to 220+ grit sandpaper. No pictures of that, though.

I rounded off the edges and tinkered until the corners met to point diagonally to the sharper corners. A router would have made this easier and consistent first time, but it was so much fun to watch the belt sander chew through the wood and the vacuum take away the dust.

And then I was ready to treat it with butcher block oil.

After many coats and drying sessions, it was finally complete.

My next cutting board will be from scratch entirely, but this was a good way to start.

Woodworking: Coffee Table Workbench Project

I don’t have a dedicated workbench or permanent shop.

That makes things difficult when I have pretty much any project.

I had picked up a discarded round coffee table years ago that I’d more recently attached my vise to, as featured in a prior post.

But since I knew I would have to turn the table back into a table after using the vise, I put anchors into the table so I could make the process easy and stable.

This proved to be reliable, and I had used this setup since May of this year, but the table was just too unstable, and the roundness and rockiness of table were making for a difficult surface for other projects.

As luck would have it, I found another abandoned table a couple weeks ago. It just screamed, “I’m a balcony workbench!”

At least to me.

Under the street lights, it looked like solid wood.

Issues with it were the flaking polyurethane, the horrid design, and the aphorisms.

Clearly someone had put in a lot of effort, but yikes.

Armed with my new Vacmaster 6 gallon, 3 HP shop vacuum, I was ready to do stuff with less concern for making everything dusty.

My dad commended me for having R2D2 help me out.

Also instead of the 2AH batteries I’d been using for my sander, I now have 5AH batteries!

The designs were going pretty quickly with even pressure on the random orbital sander with the 80+ grit cubitron sandpaper.

I started to realize that it wasn’t solid wood but veneer. But that’s not so bad.

I also didn’t need to get all the design off.

Protecting the surface was imperative. This is the time of year I see a lot of termites around, and I’m not interested in giving them free meals.

I let the table dry before moving on to the anchors!

Penciling in where the holes should be would make for a reduced chance of error.

And then for the anchors themselves.

It looks in this photo a little more crooked than it is.

OK the vise is done.

Moving on to the tabletop belt sander-disc sander combo.

I did the same penciling in.

Anchors installed and ready to rock.

The sander and vise on opposite ends of the table means that both can be up at the same time.

But there was one more thing I had to install.

My benchtop table saw!

Pencil first again and then drilling out the holes.

I had to use smaller diameter anchors because the inside allows only for smaller bolts.

And they fit into place.

I chose that space for maximal outfeed area.

I expect to have lots of projects with this setup.

And my new shop vacuum did an amazing job. Full cleanup took almost no effort.

Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 10/10)

We’ve arrived at the final part of this series.

I left off last week with Table 1 complete (other than the legs) and Table 2 yet to assemble.

Based on the darkness of the stain, the number and depth of the water rings, and then the warping of the wood, I was thrilled at how clear I got the wood to be.

All the pieces other than the sides with teak oil applied.

When I dry fit the pieces together, I was happy at the coloration and the fit of the drawer with the dangly knobs cut off.

And remember how I made my own wood filler? Many people do it wrong, but I thought I’d done it right. And when I applied teak oil, this is what I got:

Yeah, I’m stoked at the result. It’s noticeable if you know where to look, but it’s not calling attention to itself.

So for the last component: The legs!

Now, I had gotten legs for the first step-up end table from a distributor in the south. After delays for the maple legs for that table, I ended up with walnut legs, but the bolts were too long and attached at wrong angles. I had to add a block of wood to make the bolts fit.

Now, this was before I got anything that could grind down the bolt, but still, I ordered legs to get legs, and I got things that had been manufactured poorly.

I contacted different hardwood suppliers and furniture manufacturers in the Los Angeles area to see if they had legs or could recommend a place for hardwood legs.

I really didn’t want rubberwood legs.

What I heard from many sources was, “We don’t do that.”

But others told me to go to tablelegs.com.

I saw the prices for legs and started sweating pretty good. But for me not to have to delay and to get it right the first time, I figured it was worth it.

I ordered the legs, and they arrived looking pretty good!

The mounting plates for the legs were the Waddell ones that I had received for the prior set that included some mismanufactured ones. But maybe the place I’d ordered from opted to get the cheapest items or just dumped them on me because I order at tiny quantities.

I tried to fit the legs to the mounting plates and found that…

Once again the legs and the mounting plates didn’t fit flush.

The culprit?

Both the legs and the mounts! The bolts for the legs frequently were not centered. But this is tablelegs.com! They should be perfect at table legs. And they came highly recommended!

And the Waddell mounting plates just seem to be crap at a high rate.

I wrote to tablelegs.com because I’d spent way too many hundreds of dollars to get things I couldn’t use.

To the credit of tablelegs.com they replaced the legs and the mount plates.

The legs I received the second time around still weren’t perfect, but they were better. As for the mounting plates, I got mostly more garbage.

I was able to cobble together eight matching-ish pairs from the first and second shipments from tablelegs.com. They weren’t perfect, though, and it wasn’t tablelegs.com’s fault.

And the amount of work I had to put into something I’d paid a bunch of money for in order not to do more work bugged me to the point of contacting the Waddell brand.

My first email was on March 18.

No reply.

I tried again on March 30. Still nil.

Third time’s the charm because my April 5 email received a response.

I didn’t care much for how this was going. It made no sense.

Clearly, they were not interested in helping me.

Prior to applying the teak oil to the legs

Finally, the two side by side:

I like the one without the dangly knobs better.

At some point, I may cut off the dangly knobs of the other table.

A new project starts next week!