Thursday, October 30, 2014

Project: Mud Room Bench

Every so often people ask me if I can make stuff for them. Nine times out of ten I end up turning them down (mostly due to time restraints, or the lack of a workshop). In this case I was asked if I could build a bench for my sisters mud room.

Since I'm a little better outfitted now to do a variety of different joinery methods / finishing / etc, I agreed to do the project. With some conditions... the project would be completed 'as I have time' - and the majority of the supplies would be provided to me beforehand.

Because it's my sister, I can get away with those conditions. Most paying clients would refuse. Anyway, on with the project!

The project started out with a rough idea of what she'd need. And finding out the dimensions I'd be dealing with. The bench would provide storage for shoes and boots, it would be almost 78" wide, 11" deep, and roughly 16" - 18" tall, depending on a few factors.

I sketched up a general design, and sent it off to be approved. My sister seemed to like it, so after doing some math and planning, and making a cut list, I knew what materials I'd need.

(Above: Planning a project beforehand will make your life way easier in the long run)

I persuaded my sister to grab her Honda Element, since the lumber needed for this project would not fit in my car. After a trip to Home Depot, and $60 later, I had 2 planks of 2 x 12 x 16 framing SPF. To get them to fit in my sisters vehicle, I had to have them cut into 8' lengths. I also tried to pick the least knotty/nicest grain/least damaged planks.

Since the dimensions would be 77 3/4", the original length of the boards would have to be trimmed down. This would give me a chance to use my fairly new circular saw and new crosscut blade. After measuring, measuring, and measuring again, I made the cuts with the help of a 12" framing square.

(Above: No table saw? Just get your wood up on some 2x4 blocks and you're golden)

As it stands, I haven't made much progress beyond this. I marked out the cuts I'd need to make on the longer planks (I need to cut a number of 16" sections) - but until the weather plays nice, I can't do the work, since all of my cutting has to be done outdoors.

Hopefully once the barnwood desk project is done, I'll be able to focus on this build more. I'm excited to get some practice with router-dadoes, dowel joinery, and the other technical elements that this build will put me through.

Stay tuned!

Project: Reclaimed Barnwood Desk - Update

It's been a while since the last post about this project. Since I'm a hobbyist, without proper shop space, and very little spare time - working on projects can be a challenge. Plus I have a tendency to jump from one project to another, getting a little bit of each done here and there.

I also picked up a couple of commissions along the way too. Those make me nervous. (Mostly because I figure expectations are really high)

The desk is going well. I'm in the final phase of the build. I applied the last coat of polyurethane clear coat to it (4 coats total, light sanding in between each) - and I picked up some parts for the legs as well, which I'm excited about.

Here are a few sneak peeks at what's been going on:

(Above: Minwax Satin Polyurethane is the finish of choice for this project)

(Above: After the 4th and final coat - it's sealed up nicely)

(Above: "Black Steel" plumbing fittings - went with 1/2" which seems sturdy)

I will hopefully have more time this weekend to get the legs worked on - at least mounting the flange plates, and find out the sizes of the pipes I still need to have cut.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Project: Reclaimed Barnwood Desk - Pre-Finishing Work

When we left off last, the desk was still in fairly rough shape and needed a lot more work to get it to a state where it was almost ready to put the finishing touches on.

To get to that state, I had to start with planing. A lot of it. The glue squeeze out left a lot of dried glue beads, and because none of the strips of wood were at a uniform thickness, the whole top needed to be planed down.

(Above: Taking off the roughness with a block plane)

(Above: Marking out the high spots/high edges)

(Above: Making good progress)

(Above: You make a lot of waste fairly quick when planing)

Now that the desktop was reasonably flat (not perfectly square, but at least flat) - I could attack it with a belt sander to try to even it out some more. I hit it with a fairly aggressive belt (50 grit if I recall correctly) - and it got the top fairly level.

(Above: This old Makita belt sander is a beast.)

Once the belt sanding was finished, I took to the random orbit palm sander, and 80 grit to start - to remove the scratching from the belt sander. Then up to 100 grit, followed with 120 grit, and lastly 150 grit. Sure, I could have skipped some of the grits in between, but it was a nice day out and I had lots of time to spend on sanding. Plus it was relaxing.

(Above: Pretty nice result - but not finish-quality yet.)

The strips/boards had a fair amount of imperfections in them from the start. Nail holes, decayed knots, some cracks, the works. But all those imperfections lend a sort of charm. But if this is to be a desktop then those would need to be fixed somehow. Nothing worse than writing on paper and your pen finds a knothole and you have a nice big hole in your paper as a result.

My solution? Epoxy.

Epoxy makes for a great way to fill holes (or at least, from what I've seen in the sites I've read up on). And I had a tube of Gorilla Epoxy on hand and some blue painters tape, so why not, right?

Well I learned that not all epoxy is created equal. This epoxy was very soft. 5 minutes to dry, no way. 24 hours to set/cure? More like a week. There is also a critical step missing in most of the write-ups about using epoxy - if you are going to use tape around the fill-spot -- how long before you take the tape off? Or do you leave the tape on until the epoxy cures/hardens? Then how do you get it off?

(Above: Prepare your fill-holes and your epoxy *before* you start)

(Above: The painters tape allows you to be a bit sloppy.)

Well, I left the tape on for the entirety of the curing. And when I went to pull it off, it ripped. So I took a hobby knife and cut into the epoxy. That worked. Then I took a small hand plane and carefully flush-trimmed the epoxy flat.

(Above: That's one filled knot hole. Just need to trim the excess.)

And here is the desk top as it currently stands... It still maintains a fairly 'rustic' charm to it, but I'm far from done.

The next steps in this build will be: adding the edging around the outside of the desk, flush trimming the edging, another visit with the sanders to get the desk nice and smooth and ready for finish, running my 1/4 radius round-over router bit around the topside edges, a bit of hand-sanding to smooth that round-over, and then lastly some finish!

Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading!