2017 Fall Wood Working Project Multimedia Room Table

This is the most satisfying wood working project I’ve done to date. I’m really enjoying this piece on a daily basis. I apologize if I’m a bit proud of it.

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We had a non-ideal table setup in our media room that I cobbled together a couple years ago.  This time I wanted something with 3 shallow drawers in front with no knee hazards and a large snack try that pulled out in back for big bags of chips and pop corn etc.. And this time the joinery and finish work were going to be less “utilitarian” looking.

The table top has a Bar Top Epoxy finish and the rest is Arm-R-Seal over SealCoat.  There is a book matched piece of Bird’s Eye Maple in the center with Ebony accent strip, framed with highly figured quarter sawn white oak and banded in Ribbon Sapele.

The snack tray bottom is Curly Maple with Bird’s Eye Maple front and back and sides of white oak.

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The picture below was before final shaping and finish, but I like the angle. Notice the tolerances on the drawers. The drawer fronts were cut from a single piece of glued up birds eye maple, sapele and white oak with a thin kerf bandsaw blade and finished with a hand plane on a shooting board so they look nearly solid.

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The project started off at Jeffery’s Lumber to find some pretty hardwoods and I only started of with a basic plan and figured everything out as I went.

It was killing me that my small bandsaw could only cut 4.5” thick wood and I didn’t want 4 panels in the top of this table, so I bumped up to a bandsaw that could resaw up to 14” thick.

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I was also not happy with the work surfaces around my table saw so I built a couple infeed/outfeed/ side tables for my table saw.

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It all started with the center piece of the table, the Bird’s Eye Maple. This is the book match cut. I started the piece with the table saw top and bottom to try to manage any drift.

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This gave me the focal point I wanted for the top of the table.

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I started with a core piece of 3/4” baltic birch with the hope that using veneers and glue would make the piece stable long term. So I started by banding the core with Ribbon Sapele.

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After banding the baltic birch with Sapele, I block planed and sanded it flush.

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Then the bookmatched Bird’s Eye was glued together.

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I decided to use an Ebony Accent and I learned that Ebony darkens after exposure to light and air. Below are 4 strips of Ebony, showing freshly cut top, exposed to sun and air for a few hours middle and the dark edge bottom.

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The the center piece is sandwiched between Ebony and White Oak ends, then the entire length was run through the table saw to get a clean edge on both sides before it was glued to the baltic birch core.

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The front and back edging was then glued on.

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Then I spent some quality time with my #6 hand plane and got the table top flush.

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This is probably not the way most people would do this, but I ran the table top over my router table rather than running a router around the table.

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Then after some time with a random orbital sander it was ready for a protective coat of SealCoat while I continued on the rest of the project.

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It’s worth noting that I tried a number of stains, oils and dyes, but my wife liked the natural look of the wood so it was just Shellac for now. In my eyes this was beautiful.

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There are 1/8” slots routed in the 1/4” baltic birch plywood center panel for the drawer supports and 3/4” plywood sections with brass inserts to hold the legs.

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Each leg has 3 bolts holding it in place.

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Switching to the snack tray. There are 15 degree dado slots in the sides to hold 1/4” baltic birch plywood core and there is a 1/2” baltic birch bottom core.

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With the tray fitted between the leg supports, the drawer sides and supports are cut.

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For assembly disassembly there needed to be two holes in the side drawer supports.

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Created interior and exterior veneers for the snack drawer out of Curly Maple and Bird’s Eye Maple.

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Glued up the snack tray veneers.

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Started work on the legs with edge banding and leg supports with 1/2” fascia boards.  Glued up the strip for the drawer fronts. Cut veneers for the legs.

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Started gluing up the legs.

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Dado cut 1 1/8” thick white oak front and back pieces that created an I-beam like structure and got those fitted. Did some rough shaping of the feet.

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Legs shaped and sealed.

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Picked some pretty Walnut veneer patterns for the drawer bottoms.

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Routed the slots and cut runner pieces for the drawers.

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Glued the drawers together without drawer fronts. Then with careful attention to the drawer front placement glued the drawer fronts on in-situ.

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It is now feature complete and ready for final sanding and finish.

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Taped up the bottom of the table to allow me to peel off Bar Top epoxy drips.

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I had closed off this room, shut the vents and left the table in there to set overnight to let dust settle before putting the epoxy on.

Epoxy is down, now to patiently let it dry for a few days…

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Then I put the legs in tightened the bolts and put it in my media room.

This is probably my last project of the year while I focus on other things.

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2017 Summer Wood Working Project Walnut Plant Stand

We had a square table in our front foyer holding a plant and one of our cats would sit on the corners of that table and eat this plant. So I built this round table to protect the plant and it seems to be working. This was my first solid hardwood project.

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Started by gluing up a beautiful piece of 1” plus thick walnut.

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Used carpet tape and a shallow 1/8” guide hole to center this walnut slab on a 1/2” piece of plywood backer. Used my new router circle cutter to cut and spiral bit to cut the table top.

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Used a downcut spiral bit to cut a slot for the skirt in the underside of the table top and then used a round over bit on the top of the table.

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Resawed slices of walnut to make the round skirt.

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Here is the fully routed table top and 1/8” veneer strips for the skirt

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Glued the skirt using Titebond III for more working time.

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Created an MDF form to create two halves of a circle to make the skirt. The form is just 1/4” smaller in diameter than the slot in the bottom of the table top. Thinner sheets of wood with more layers of glue hold shape better than thicker sheets with fewer layers of glue.

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Cleaned up the edges of the skirt with a block plane and card scraper.

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This fit the slot perfectly.

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Glued together a second circle half.

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Started finishing the table top and skirt.

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Cut 4 square legs to start with.

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Routed a 1/2” slot into the legs to fit over the skirt and then chiseled a curve and flattened out the top of the slot.

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Started to fit the legs on the skirt. Two legs hide the lap joints of the skirt.

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Created leg supports out of the corners cut off when making the table top.

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Fit the supports and legs to the skirt.

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Added brass inserts to the table top.

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Added brass inserts to the legs and decided to add a floating tenon for additional stability. it is glued only to the leg.

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Practiced cutting legs with a tapering jig.

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Created a few out of pine to see what would look good.

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Cut tapers in the walnut legs and stained everything.

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Applied Arm-R-Seal and completed final assembly.

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The skirt is floating and not glued in any way. The legs hold the skirt in the table top slot and the skirt helps hold the legs in place. The legs are held by one 1/4 20 SS screw and a floating tenon and the leg supports are held by two 1/4 20 SS screws.  It can be completely disassembled to 11 wood pieces and 12 SS screws.

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2017 Spring Wood Working Project Chest of Drawers

I wanted storage space for my RC Helicopter tools and parts for my office and couldn’t find anything that existed. This is the design I came up with and built.

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Here is the finished piece.

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Cut the drawer pieces out of 1/2 and 1/4” plywood. Routed the drawer sides with drawer lock bit and used a 1/4” rabbet on the bottom rather than a slot to conserve valuable vertical space.

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Glued them up.

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Stacked drawers in a mockup of the final configuration with full extension slides as spacers.

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Planed reclaimed red oak flooring to 1/2” and tongue and grooved the pieces so there was a 1/2” band at the top and bottom of each fascia board. This helped keep the boards true and they have remained extremely flat.

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Glued up fascia boards.

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Stained.

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All of the drawers and fascia boards neatly stacked.  The black board on top was an experiment with reclaimed flooring that didn’t work well.

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Cut and banded 3/4” plywood with 3/4” red oak boards for the carcass.

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Created tongue and groove slots on the top, bottom, left and right panels that fit snuggly together perfectly square while dry.  During glue up they were tighter and required lots of rubber hammer and clamp pressure to pull them tight.

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Decided to flock the top 4 smallest drawers that hold lots of small tools.

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Rough fit of everything.

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Stained the housing black

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Glued the main enclosure together and used pocket screws for the center supports and mid horizontal surface.

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Created wood tooling for mounting the drawer sliders.

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All drawers fitted

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Fitted and shimmed fascia boards, then marked holes and drilled holes for handles. These two screws also hold the fascia boards in place and allow for minor adjustments to get them aligned well.

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Cabinet is now complete.

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2017 the year of the Woodworking bug

This is the year that the woodworking bug bit me hard!

My biggest limitation has been that my entire shop has to fit into a 6’ x 13’ area when I’m not using it. This means that EVERYTHING is on casters and that I take over the entire garage in various configurations as needed. Some tools like my planer sit on the floor and are not at an optimum height.

This is my shop area fit into the back of the garage with a stop sensor for my wife’s car.

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My work surfaces tend to be multi-use and collapsible. I built two folding tables that quickly attach to the front back and side of my table saw to act as 4’ long in feed, out feed, or side support tables.  But they only take up a 1’x2’ of floor space when I’m not using them.

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I built a rolling power tool bench / glue up table / storage unit that continues to evolve. It is not the perfect height for everything, but it works well enough.

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It also works as a glue-up table using Kreg Auto-Max clamps and an easily replaceable  not stick top.  It also has a large end vice and supports to hold a large piece of wood off the floor or level. 

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My clamp rack is a 2 stage ladder hung to the side wall. Notice another folding table against the wall.

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My other limitation is that I have only two 20A 120V circuits to work with. Technically I had one but I’m now sharing a circuit with the overhead lights which are now LED’s that sip power.  My dust collection system shares the circuit with the lights and a single power tool at a time runs off the other.

This has proven to be very workable and while it might be nice to have a seriously powerful table saw or band saw, so far it hasn’t kept me from doing anything.

There is only one tool missing and that is a jointer. Unfortunately I don’t see the point in a small jointer and I don’t have the room for a large jointer or have the power to run it so I just have to deal with limitations for now.

My work around for this has been hand planes which I have developed a real love for. They can handle figured wood as well as or better than a helical blade jointer. There is also something very satisfying about making fine shavings with a hand plane.

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A proper shooting board can create perfectly square ends. I built this shooting board based on Rob Cosman’s recommendations.
His video –> https://youtu.be/YyfvygylyJg

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With the exception of my shooting board, I have never built anything based on plans or someone else’s design. I enjoy designing things that I can’t buy. The fun part about wood working is that there is always a new technique to learn and then find a created way to apply.

I recently designed and built this walnut table for my front foyer. The specific need was to replace a square table with something that had no room for a cat to sit and eat the leaves. He cried a bit, but it was a success.  I also learned how to make a circular form, laminate hardwood, cut tapered legs, use a circle jig and build a loose tenon support system for the legs. Other than a single glue seam on the table top there is no glue holding the skirt or legs on and it can be completely disassembled into eleven parts.

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Smaller Charger ( one more time )

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This is the last one finished in November 2016 . I still had the 2 x PL8’s and a 1kW PS  from my first too heavy to carry charger build and I wanted to be able to use them. This is a very simple rugged and lightweight package.

I started with a cardboard mockup.

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Then moved to a wooden prototype

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Then I moved to ABS and screwed into UHMW blocks.

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Finally it joined my last Charging Tower and is what I continue to use today.

I still have the battery storage unit from the first build, but I don’t use it often because of it’s size.

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Frequently before I head to the airfield I’ll charge a bunch of batteries running both chargers.
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Charging Station Reprise (with BUMP controller)

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A couple years back I built an over-engineered charging station with battery storage that was worked, but in practice was too heavy and cumbersome.

Last year I went in a different direction. I wanted light, simple and twice the charging capacity.

I started with 2 x Dual PL8’s,  4 x MPA boards and a Meanwell 2kW 48V PS.

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The Meanwell charger is quiet with a variable speed fan and has power factor correction to help minimize the load on my generator at the airfield.

I had pre-ordered a BUMP controller in October that arrived January 30th, so I started without it and just used a cardboard placeholder.

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The MPA boards Velcro to the sideboards that connect both horizontally and vertically.

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This year I decided to go for a stained finish. I used a gray stain and urethane top coat.

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BumpInUse

Building the Ultimate RC Charging box / Battery Caddie

This winter I had a project. I wanted to design and build the ultimate charging box and battery storage for my needs. This is what I ended up building.

ChargingTowerInUse

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I settled on a three part solution.

Part 1 Charging Box 

  • Hold 1x powersupply, 2x PowerLab PL8’s and 2x MPA 6 balance boards
  • Make my PL8’s and balance boards conveniently accessible.
  • Hold my batteries conveniently for charging
  • Store my batteries
  • Show the charge status of each battery ( Charged, Flown, Balanced)
  • Run off AC or Battery at the airfield easily
  • Help get everything out to the airfield from my car easier

Part 2 Battery Caddie

  • Easily carry just my batteries to the air field
  • Keep my batteries organized and keep track of their charge status.
  • Carry some tools

Part 3 Battery Storage

  • Must be easily transferred from the Charging Box to the Battery Caddie
  • Keep track of the battery charge status
  • Have an integrated platform to present batteries for use and to charge

This was a winter project for me and I took my time with it and iterated quite a bit. I started out mostly working on the dimensions, features, overall design and used a bunch of metal hardware that screwed together. Then as I got into wood working more there was a transition away from metal hardware and screws to wood structure and glue.

Starting from the early prototypes I was trying to get convenient access for 2x PL8’s and 2x  MPA boards and battery storage.  Here you can see the battery storage clipped on.

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I wanted a way to support the batteries when charging from both balance boards. Using aluminum clips to hold the battery charging trays in place.

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It was going to be heavy enough with PS, Chargers, Balance boards, and especially batteries that it needed a strong frame with wheels and a luggage handle.

HandleOut

I did a lot of prototyping with cardboard because it was fast. Below are the cardboard folding charging wings and the next version of battery storage which used a removable 1” dowel hinge.

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Then the cardboard was replaced with wood, metal hinges and lexan. The battery storage had to fold up to stow. The wiring was also coming along.

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A hinged lexan window for the batteries was added and some front facial.

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Of course it needed a cell phone charger on it Smile

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Then the ability to charge with Deep Cycle Batteries was added. This Power supply allows for DC Voltage across the output terminals. This is not always the case.

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The aesthetics changed over time. Red and Black CF look vinyl seemed like a good way to clean things up quickly.

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There was a little space between the top balance board and the power supply. Perfect space for a tool storage area Smile

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The battery storage still seemed too complex. requiring a removable dowel and a cord to keep it from laying flat. So the next step was adding slots and pegs to hold the battery storage in place. This way it could just slide into place supported at an angle and then able to slide to upright.

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The charging tower was finally nearly fully functional.

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It got it’s first field test and worked well, but came home with very muddy wheels and no good way for me to bring it in the house without lots of cleaning effort. That lead to the bottom becoming removable for easy cleaning.

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This is when my project went from prototyping functionality to woodworking and learning the basic skills needed to construct something a bit more finished looking. The project was on hold while I tooled up my shop and learned how to use my new tools. I built a mobile tool bench / gluing table because of limited space. The right picture is my entire shop compressed into a space in front of where my wife parks her car.

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Now I could cut with accuracy and do things I was ill equipped to do earlier like making wooden hinges.

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So now I could remove all the ugly pop riveted metal hinges and use something much prettier to look at.

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Another design change. The battery storage hinged doors would double as the battery charging platform. This had the added benefit of them serving as a nice platform to put your batteries on while flying. Prototyped with metal hinges.

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Then it was time to upgrade the Battery storage slots and pegs to something more durable, UHMW and aluminum. First a little tooling to make sure all the slots were uniform as 8 total were needed.

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Now things were starting to look prettier.

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With precise cutting the battery storage became cleaner looking to and much stronger with 1/8” hardboard dividers glued into place with 1/8” neoprene cushioning for the batteries.

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Then it was time to work on the removable base out of 1/4” ABS. Using a band saw holes were cut for the wheels and then using a heat gun and a 1” dowel a bend needed to be made.

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The release mechanism was very simple. A bolt and knob would release it and let the base slide off to be hosed down separate from the wood and electronics.

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Next I jumped ship to the battery caddie which is the lighter weight battery storage system that would accompany me to the airfield most of the time. Once again prototyping in cardboard. This is where the interchangeable battery storage units start to make more sense.

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The battery caddie went together very quickly and it was time to learn about finishing wood.

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It was now time to build up the left battery storage unit and as you can see you can never have enough clamps.

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Now the battery caddy had a full complement of battery storage!

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Battery storage is finally finished and so is the Battery Caddie

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Time for a field test!   The battery caddie worked perfectly at the airfield and I had no issues with it.

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Now back to the Charging tower. At this point the bar had been raised and it was time to tear the tower apart to rebuild it properly with what I had learned since starting this project. Luckily it is quite modular and removing the center tower is easy.

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The tower which shell which had been drilled over and over again was ready for replacement.

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With the wood finishing so far, putting a plastic mesh in the back for cooling didn’t seem adequate, so I drilled 1/2” vent holes for the power supply and top Power Lab 8.

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The back of the charging tower with Battery cable storage, powersupply vent and place for the rear AC outlet and handle to attach.

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The front fascia.

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Test fit the new tower.

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Final wiring

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And done setting in my office.

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In use before a day at the airfield.

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At the air field running of a 2kW generator.

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Running off deep cycle batteries.

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Finally here is a Video walking through how it all works.