Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

woodworking

Table saw under-wing storage

Table saw under-wing storage with pull-out shelf

I’ve been trying to do a lot of organizing and streamlining of my shop the past few weeks. I’m currently using our garage as my workshop, so I need to be able to move everything aside so I can park in there when I’m not working. One issue that I always have is storage, so I decided to use some empty space under the wing of my table saw to hold a storage drawer, pull-out shelf, and a catch-all bin for push blocks and the like.

Sketchy Plans

I took some measurements and sketched a plan… of dubious usefulness. For the record, I stuck with almost none of those original measurements because I was making this unit out of scrap wood I had in my shop and I didn’t have pieces big enough to make it as designed. With some creative shenanigans, I was able to make it work, though.

Panels with dadoes

I cut (most of) the pieces to size and cut some dados to hold the horizontal pieces. I also cut the pieces for the pull-out shelf and the drawer. Everything was assembled using glue… and a mallet… and a bunch of clamps. Time for a clamping montage!

(more…)

Cell phone amplifier

I’ve been wanting to make a wooden cell phone amplifier for awhile. There are a myriad of plans available, some being really cool and some being mundane (but probably just as effective). I had this plan from Woodsmith and figured I’d try it out with some modifications to simplify it and to account for the fact that I only have a benchtop band saw with a 3.5 inch cut depth.

Here’s what the plan had in mind versus what I ended up creating.

Woodsmith Smartphone Amplifier My Smartphone Amplifier

Same idea and (probably) the same functionality, but I didn’t have any fun wood (just pine) and I don’t have a large enough bandsaw to do the size cuts they call for in the plans. Plus, let’s face it, I knew I was going to butcher the thing, so better to do it with scrap 2x4s instead of maple and mahogany as in the plan.

This does not look promisingTo accommodate the diminutive cut depth of my bandsaw, I milled down some 2×4 pieces using the table saw and the planer so they were 3" x 1.25". Then I cut out the patterns individually on each piece and glued them together. The picture on the left is what I ended up with after the glue-up. It’s a bit messy, but I spent some time with the belt sander and spindle sander (and some vigorous hand sanding) to get each piece cleaned up and to get rid of the glue that squeezed out. The sides were some glued-up 1x4s that I cut on the table saw. Super fancy, I know.

If you’ve ever seen any of the other woodworking I’ve posted about (other than shop carts and shop storage), you may have noticed that I always do the woodworking and Lori always does the finishing. I think I’ve stained one piece myself (the top of my couch table), but she’s stained and painted everything else. She’s got a lot of experience with that and, well, I don’t… not since high school.

Glued and stained (for the first time)Since this was, more or less, an experimental piece, I figured I would do the finishing myself… good practice and no risk! I wanted the center dark and the sides light (as indicated by my first picture), so after I sanded all the pieces, I stained the center pieces and glued it all together, leaving me with this beautiful chunk of wood. Looks pretty good, right?

But wait! I forgot that I have to cut this block on the bandsaw to turn it (roughly) circular, which means I’ll have to re-stain all the newly exposed edges that will appear after cutting. Oops. Not that big of a deal. So I made the cut on the band saw and re-stained those edge, staying mostly inside the appropriate lines thanks to some painter’s tape.

It's round and stained (for the next-to-last time)Okay. That’s fine. Everything is re-stained. The edges all look good. The stain is almost all where I intended it to go.

Except I forgot I had to router the edges to round them over, which means that I’m going to have to re-stain the edges yet again!

It all worked out in the end, though. There was just some extra staining due to my not planning ahead. The shellac went on just fine and the final product looks pretty good for a bunch of scrap 2x4s that were lying around the shop.

Plus it works absurdly well. The amplification that it provides is almost shocking, and there’s no need to keep it charged!

Overall, it was a win!

Evidently, I need another one

I filled up the cutoff bin and I still have more to store. Ha!

Full Cutoff Bin

Mobile Cutoff Bin

In an effort to tame all the piles and buckets of "scrap" wood that I have after each project, I made this mobile cutoff bin using a Woodsmith plan that I saw online. It used a sheet and a half of plywood and I happened to have some construction grade plywood on hand.

The front bins allow me to store long and short scraps that are good enough for future use, while the back section can hold plywood cutoffs and related sheet goods.

I figured it was a good use of my time off, especially since it will help declutter my garage shop, which will then allow me to do more fun projects… or at least continue the ones I’m working on without having to navigate through woodworking chaos.

Mobile Cutoff Bin - Woodcraft Plan

Mobile Cutoff Bin - Woodcraft Plan

Our cats are not spoiled… Part Three

A few months ago, I read or saw or heard something about how the ideal cat scratching post is tall enough to allow cats to get a full stretch while they’re scratching. Most of the posts you get at pet stores are way too short to meet that criteria… like this one.

This scratching post makes kitties sad.

This scratching post makes kitties sad.

It still works and the cats still use it (unless Oooo! Look! A couch!) but in the interest of (not) spoiling our cats, I decided that a “less than ideal” cat scratching post was, well… less than ideal. Therefore, I set about making one that more closely resembled the a scratching post fit for a frickin’ lion.

For the post itself, I took two 2x4s and screwed them together to make a solid and adequately sized post. I cut it to a length of 36″ and then wrapped it with 1/4″ sisal rope that I got at Harbor Freight for about $8.00 per 100-foot roll.

Sisal Wrapping

The hammer seems out of place

To get things started, I drilled a 1/4″ hole and stuck end of the rope into the hole, adding a small screw to smush it solidly into place. There are various ways to keep the rope in place (staples, hot glue, tacks, etc) but since I had some Titebond glue around, I just smeared that on the post and wrapped the sisal around that, working in about 5″ segments so the glue wouldn’t dry out before I got the sisal wrapped. That worked out really well and the wrapping ended up very solid.

Cloth StaplesAt the top and bottom, I also added some tack-in cloth staples around the rope just to make sure it didn’t slip or pull loose.

From that point, it was just a matter of cutting a big, square base, drilling some holes, wrapping it in carpet, and screwing the post to the base. I’m giving very few details here because of two things. First, I didn’t take any pictures during this process and second, I’m a total failure at cutting carpet with anything remotely resembling precision. Fortunately, it looks fine from the top.

So the finished post is about 36″ tall and is on a base that’s about 20″ x 20″. It looks pretty awesome and I’m sure that it will get used eventually. To be more specific, I’m sure it will get used eventually the way it was intended to be used, not the way Houdini decided to use it.

Houdini using the scratching post

So ungrateful.

Dining Room Table… Finis!

So after quite a bit of drilling, screwing, sanding, gluing, bashing, sanding, clamping, sanding, painting, staining… and sanding, the dining room table is done!

For you “tl;dr” folks, here’s the completed table in its natural habitat…

The finished dining room table

For the rest of you, here are some of the “along the way” details.

I had posted a picture of the base in my first table update. I ended up using that as my work table to do my table top glue-up. I covered it with plastic and put some boards across the top for my pipe clamps. The table top is made of seven 12-foot 2×6’s from Lowe’s.

Harbor Freight table saw rip fence

Harbor Freight table saw with make-shift rip fence extension

In order to get nice square edges to glue, I had to rip about 1/4″ off each edge using my little table saw from Harbor Freight. I rigged up a jig to make my rip fence longer since I was pushing 12-foot boards through it. That ended up working fairly well and I was impressed (surprised?) at how well the saw kept up.

The edges weren’t quite perfect, but they were close enough (*cough*) and since it was pine, I figured I’d clamp it tight enough to squish everything together (that turned out to be mostly true).

Table top glue-up

So many clamps!

I clamped the first two boards together and kept going, one board at a time. Since it was my first glue-up of this size and I didn’t think I could apply the glue, get multiple boards in place, align them, attach my clamping cauls, and tighten up all my clamps before the glue dried out too much. I waited about an hour and a half (or more) between boards to give the glue enough time to set before I started moving things around to add another board. The final clamping (shown in the picture), I left alone for a little more than 12 hours.

There was a lot of excess glue on top. That took a lot of scraping to remove after it dried… followed by a lot of sanding to get everything level (because all the scraping took off some wood, too). But I got it all removed (Make a mental note of this bold claim. It’ll come up later) and sanded it to a nice finish using 80-grit, 120-grit, and 220-grit sandpaper. I also routed a 1/2″ round-over edge all around the table top.

Table top and base

Table top and base… ready for finishing!

I arrived at this point where everything was ready for finishing! I had planned on finishing it myself, but I only get to work on this sort of thing about an hour or so a day (if that) and on weekends, so Lori offered to do it for me. She’s been doing a lot of painting and refinishing lately, so I figured she was in the zone and I’d go ahead and let her do the finishing work on the table. I’m really considerate that way (wait, what?!).

The base was to be painted white and the top was getting a dark stain to go with our kitchen and living room woodwork. After the first coat of stain, the top looked fantastic. It really brought out the nice grain and was the perfect shade of rich brown. Lori did a second coat of stain and suddenly (remember that mental note you made about my claim of having removed all the glue?) every… little… spot… where glue had touched the wood showed up like a fluorescent beacon, as if the wood and the glue were conspiring to make a mockery of me and my vain attempt at glue removal.

But… thanks to my friend Darren (I can call him that. I paid him) who had loaned me his belt sander, it only took an hour or so for me to sand the table back down to the bare wood (or close enough) for another go at staining… with only a single coat this time. The results were perfect again after one coat, so Lori and I agreed that one coat was what we’d both meant to do in the first place, anyway (She was also nice enough to not call me out for my lack of glue-removal skillz).

So the table top was stained. The base was painted white. We moved it into the dining room and Voila! Of course now Lori couldn’t reach the salt, but what are you gonna do?

Table with white base

After having it in the dining room for a few days, she said (and I agreed) that it was a little too “farmhouse style” for what we wanted. She suggested that painting the base black might dress it up a bit. So we (and by “we” I mean “she”) repainted the base a nice satin black, which created exactly what we were looking for.

Final dining room table

Final dining room table

The table is 11-feet, 11-inches long (that was done on purpose) and weighs roughly ten bazillion pounds (that was not done on purpose). The top was finished with seven or eight coats of Minwax satin polyurethane. We should be able to easily seat twelve people… fourteen if people want to get a little squishy.

We’re missing chairs… but that’s another adventure!


Hat tip to the following sites for design and construction inspiration:

Dining Room Table Base

I’m in the process of building our new dining room table. The dining room is pretty long, so Lori wanted a table that was about 12 feet long. It’s tough to come by those (at a price that is budget-friendly), so I decided to make one.

I looked at a lot of different plans and designs. None were exactly what I was looking for (or what I needed), so what I came up with was a hybrid. The one that was the “foundational” design, more or less, was this table on Ana White’s website. Because my table was going to be quite a bit longer, I put an extra leg in the center. I changed a few other details as well.

The base is assembled with a combination of dowels, glue, wood screws, and pocket screws. I used lumber from Lowe’s and added some decorative edges with my router so it won’t look quite so “Farmhouse” style. The base itself is 9 feet and 7 inches long and about 31 inches wide.

The table top will be 11 feet and 11 inches long (roughly) and 35 inches wide. I’ll be edge gluing 7 12-foot 2×6’s together to get (I hope) a nice, smooth surface, and then staining it a dark brown. The base will be painted white.

The table should be able to seat 14 people without much crowding… 12 people with plenty of elbow room.

Dining Room Table Base