Monday, 30 December 2013

Cole Builds a Workbench

   Cole is the son of our friends and he is very interested in woodworking.
Some times he would come by and I would give him some wood to whittle with but I was pretty certain he had the malady of woodworking. Any boy his age that can whittle wood that long instead of playing video games must be sick. No need for a doctor as woodworking is a benevolent infliction of the genus homo sapiens.

   "What tools should I get if I want to do more woodworking", Cole asked me.
   "A workbench", I replied.
   " Umm, I meant tools....", he said again.
   " A workbench is a tool and should be your first tool when possible."

  He asked if I would help him build one. I agreed also I knew his mother was growing tired of the piles of wood chips under the kitchen table.

  First we need a top. As luck had it I came into possession of a used maple laminated work top that is 1 1/2 " thick. Lots of salvaged large dimension boards from cribbing used for steel deliveries. Some old drawers from the post office renovation that could be reworked and installed under the bench.

  The top was cut to finished dimensions first then we started on the legs and feet for the base.
The legs are through mortised into the feet and then wedges are driven into slots in the tenon to secure the legs without the use of glue. A bench gets a lot of racking and the wedges hold well and are easily repaired if need be.

  Cole mortised the holes on the awesome mortising machine which has a drill bit inside a square chisel. You pull down on a lever and behold. Perfectly square holes in the wood.

  I handed him a handsaw and showed him how to cut the tenons on the ends of the legs. I could tell he didn't find that as exciting as the mortise machine. A little sweat needs to go into a good bench.

  At the end of that first day he offered that I could go ahead and work on the bench without him so it could be finished. Ha Ha, no way buddy I thought.
  I told him I could wait for him to return whenever he was ready. Again he didn't find that as exciting as the mortising machine. He was beginning to realize that working wood takes more time in the shop than it does on the DIY channel.

  "Will this have a vise?", he asked. I said I would find something for him which turned out to be a nice one from Lee Valley. It's of good quality and good price. It should take a beating for many a year. I also managed to get a couple of bench pups with it for holding work on the bench.

  So we gave it a break for a while. I was beginning to wonder if he would return but sure enough he did contact me as Christmas break was on the horizon.

 On Friday we worked on assembling those legs and feet and burying those wedges into the tenons. We topped off the legs with a stretcher to allow us attachment to the work top.
Once the top was on we put in some stretchers between the legs. Getting nice and sturdy now. Enough for one afternoon.
  Saturday the vise was installed and some wood faces made for the vise and attached. I laid out marks on the bench top for him to bore all the holes for the bench dogs to fit in. Three rows of eight holes. Not as amazing as the mortiser again but he soldiered on to the last one.

  Next we put together some cases to insert drawers into and trimmed the fronts of them. Cole learned to look at the nail and not his thumb when hammering. I was going to say something but some lessons are best learned by oneself. Cole's eyes popped wide open. No tears, just disbelief.

   "Man that hurts", he said.
While he was walking back and forth holding his hand I told him why the accident had happened but it didn't seem to make it feel any better. It never does though.

 As I was laughing I offered him this advice, "Think about something else".
It never worked for me either but after a short bout with nausea the throbbing stops, not to mention the hot flash sweating.

 The top was cleaned with steel scraper cards. That was a fun lesson in sore and burning thumbs.

  "They feel better the more you use them", I lied to him.
He wasn't going for it but he kept scraping anyway.  I gave him some mineral oil to wipe onto the top, it helps keep the wood in good shape and repel some stains. Looking good.

  Enough for today. Cole had a family thing on Sunday so he would be back on Monday.

Monday, last day.

 Time to make and install the drawers. I did most of the drawer refurbishing as it was quite tricky. He'll get there soon enough. Cole went on to design and build some handles during the time I worked on the drawers.

  The handles he was working on were pretty cool but didn't really come together in the end for him. It was a valiant try though and good to see him take the initiative. You are powerless to work wood if you are afraid to fail. I was intrigued by his design. I might try some myself later.

  Like a true woodworker Cole looked to the work of others and made some handles similar to the ones I put on my assembly table. He figured those out by himself and I think they are very good. After some measuring and math work we had those handles installed in the centre of the drawer fronts.

  There are two camps of thought in the woodworking universe. One is to build a full height bench and have the vertically challenged wood chuck use a box to stand on. The other camp is to build to suit the height of the young maker. I chose the latter camp. As he grows he can add some blocking to the feet until he stops growing.
Here's Cole on his bench.
  If he is still using a bench when he is older then he will most likely build a traditional bench from maple with tail vise and side vise. Just like a pro. I'll help him if he want's me too. It is a very rewarding feeling passing on your knowledge to another. Woodworkers especially love to share their knowledge. I just hope he doesn't make me cut the leg tenons by hand.

Thanks for reading
Happy New Year


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Somers' bar is open

  As promised in the last post we finished up the the liquor cabinet and the doors for beneath the sink space.
The liquor cabinet is about 8 inches deep overall and sports these snazzy sliding doors. The sliding doors are a real space saver in the area behind the bar. The panels for the sliding doors are made by resawing some 2 1/2 in thick quarter sawn oak  into 1/4 inch slices and edge gluing them together. Makes it really nice with the ray flecks mingling amongst the grain of the door frames. As always click on the pics to see a larger picture.

Open Sesame

   Here is how it looks altogether. It was nice to finally stand in front of it and just enjoy a drink and some conversation. Bob's wine aerator works awesome.

Here's looking at the business side of the bar.

  I'll be back to hang the doors on the bar cabinet. Maybe have a little more wine?
Bob and Lynn are the nicest people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. I can't say enough.

  It leaves me with a great feeling knowing that they will have many enjoyable moments with family and friends in the years to come around my work.

  Once again my skills have let me make someone happier.
I am most thankful to have this wonderful skill and the time to use it.

Who can I make happy next? Maybe you?

Thanks for reading

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Completing the Somers' Oak Bar

Hi everyone.

As promised in the last post I have an update on the bar install.
We moved the main portions of the bar to the Somers' house last week and assembled them.
Yesterday we took the completed arm rails over along with a few trim pieces to finish up the install.

Ready for the big finish.

View of the support system for the bar rail.

No bar is complete until you slip on the arm rail. Man she's a beauty.

A little final smoothing with a custom shaped scraper card. Best mitered corners I have ever executed.

Saturday Night is date night so Shannon and I donned the Nitrile gloves broke out the stain and got busy with the wood. Does anyone have some Barry White.

Staining complete and bar slipped into place. An oil/varnish top coat will go on later to seal the deal.

Fridges will go underneath with small cupboard on the end. Doors are coming along with the liquor cabinet that will soon be on the back wall. I'll show you those on the next post.

Working with Bob and Lynn Somers on this project has been awesome. Bob showed me where he wanted the bar and what he wanted parked under it and left the rest up to me.
The bar is not very big but the large panels on the front give it command of that area of the rec room.
The ray flecks from quarter sawing some of the panel trims really payed off creating some visual interest.

Oh yeah, the bar rail is just the right height and shape. Sweet dreams. And again thanks to Lynn and Bob for their hospitality. Cheers everyone.

Thanks for reading.

Somer's Oak Bar Project

  I love bars. Not the kind on jail cell windows but the kind you sit or stand at and guzzle some ale with your mates.

 Being a woodworker I marvel at all the framing around the panels. The custom molded trims. The layers of vertical and horizontal boards and how they build upon each other to give it depth. Lets not forget the arm rail that runs the length of the bar with it's ample sweeping asymmetric cove to cradle your forearms.

  I am somewhat of an expert considering that I have spent plenty of time drinking in front of them. Trust me my friends, a well crafted arm rail cradling your arms makes a nice place to put your head down for a little nap.

   I am lucky enough to have someone who has been waiting for a woodworker to build a bar to fit into his rec room. A nice bar to compliment his lovely oak billiard table.

   Taking a cue from the billiard table (pun intended) for the bar's design it was natural to go with oak. The billiard table is somewhat contemporary but has a nice style with lots of visual weight.

  The bar will have the customary frame and panel fronts. The panels will be trimmed with custom made moldings to accentuate the paneled fields. Layers of solid oak boards will be built up at the corners and along the base to add some depth.
There won't be any fancy carved corbels under the bar top as we are sighting along with the billiard tables lines.

  I did want to add some visual interest to the broad grain patterns in the oak as it can become overwhelming (read boring). I carefully selected and cut boards to present the medullary rays and flecking that are present in quarter sawn wood. My planks aren't quarter sawn but paying special attention to the annual rings on the ends of the boards I cut and re-sawed the boards so the faces I wanted would be at a right angle to the rings. This doesn't create a true quarter saw but it has the same effect.

This is how she looks today, just starting on the top. All the trims are done.

  For the bar top I do have a couple of true quarter sawn boards with straight running grain but I haven't made the final decision for that yet.

  It will of course have the arm rail hand crafted in my shop to finish it off and give me a place to lean and enjoy a cold one with the bars owner once it is all done.

Should have an update on the top soon probably be accompanied by the installation in the rec room.

Thanks for reading.