Monday, November 25, 2013

Major milestone for Abe

With the addition of doors and knobs the construction phase of the project is complete.  By far the most challenging job so far was to turn eight IDENTICAL knobs on my spindle lathe.  Under normal circumstances this would be the project where I upgrade to a lathe with a scroll chuck but I am trying to work to a budget this time round.  There has been a lot of free hand filing and sanding to shape the knobs but in the end I identified matched pairs and allocated them to specific locations so you can't notice any major differences (don't tell any one).

The next job is to pull it all apart, sand, stain and apply finish.  If I don't surface before Christmas it will be because I'm still sanding.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Drawers, dovetails and diversions

The last little while I have been focusing on constructing the drawers for my armoire.  The drawers have half blind dovetails set into the fronts and through dovetails at the back, so as you might imagine, it has been a bit time consuming.  They are reasonably large drawers so I have made them with 7mm ply to avoid saggy bottoms.

Part of the inspiration for this build came from an article in an April 2011 Fine Woodworking article by Christian Becksvoort.  In the article titled "Classic Shaker Cupboard", Becksvoort suggests a central drawer guide to keep wide drawers in line.  His idea is a grooved center strip fitted on top of a center stile with a dowel sunk into the back of the drawer to run in the groove.  I have simplified this slightly with a central runner screwed to the front and back frame rail and two lugs screwed into the drawer back to keep the drawer running true.  The central runner is set back from the front of the frame rail and doubles as the drawer stop.  Initial trials seem to suggest the arrangements work very well but I guess I need to wait to see how it holds up over the coming years before I start promoting the idea.

In the mean time I had started to turn handles from a scrap of NZ beech when my trusty, el cheapo, second hand lathe went up in a puff of smoke.   Many thanks to Mr wash fix from ebay for the replacement starter cap and the quick service.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Abe stands on his own feet

Abraham the armoire is starting to develop some character.  The carcass work is complete and I have built a  base and crown which locate on the carcass without any fasteners.  Compared to what I see in the furniture shops this wardrobe stands fairly tall at 2.15m and is quite an imposing sight.  I wanted to be able to move it without any fragile protuberances so the base and crown can be separated and moved independently.  All the timber has been bought and the material cost is about $550 which, unfortunately, means that I can't beat the Swedish flatpack alternative "Hemnes" at $399.

Next job is to construct the drawers.
I wonder what the Swedish word for half blind dovetails is?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tinkerers portable workbench system

I had a comment last week about the low worktable my wardrobe was sitting on.  Regular readers may remember that I was given an old flatpack kitchen earlier in the year.  It sat stacked in the middle of my workshop for months.  Most of my chessboard build was done on that stack of melamine chipboard and I have to say it was perfect for the job.  It was a durable, smooth, flat surface and was infinitely adjustable buy taking boards on and off the stack.  It was decided then.  I would build an auxiliary workbench.

So here it is.  I call it my Josh Finn, Ron Paulk, Garry Smith inspired Tinkerers portable workbench system.  It is basically a standardized set of beams and boxes which stack together.  The boxes are a foot and a half long and I have pairs of five and eight foot beams.  All the components are one foot square which means they are light enough to move single handed but plenty strong enough to sit stand and work on without any deflection.  The boxes have cleats which help them nest like a set of Lego.  The beams have two flat faces and two faces with access holes and flanges.  I have been surprised at how stable they are simply stacked but for any tinkering jobs that require big hammers I generally clamp them together.