Cherry Coffee Table #5: The Cranky Sailor Workshop - Ep 5

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Blog entry by DynaBlue posted 12-05-2009 03:16 AM 1271 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: The Cranky Sailor Workshop - Ep 4 Part 5 of Cherry Coffee Table series Part 6: The Cranky Sailor Workshop - Ep 6 »

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog boards comes another episode in the misadventures known as Dynablue’s woodworking projects. I’ve got no pictures this time but will post them on the next one.

Mainly I hadn’t blogged because there wasn’t much going on with the table that was of really any interest. Gluing up tabletop blanks, sanding, oiling, gluing parts, having nearly ruinous experiences routing bandsaw marks off the edge of the top, etc.. We’ve all been there, done that, bought the crummy T-shirt. I also have been derailed a few times by inlaw visits, the myriad of ‘new house’ projects (trim and yardwork..English Ivy which has been ignored for 20 years is a PITA, BTW), and a general lack of enthusiasm for getting much done. Fortunately the lady I’m building for wasn’t pressing me since she lives across the street and can now see my house since I’ve yanked out the ivy. No joke..there were two pine trees we found buried in the ivy which were nearly impossible to have seen before. We’ll see if they’re maybe going to live after we pulled ivy off up to about the 20’ mark; still some more up there we couldn’t get but I only had a 17’ ladder.

In short, I’ve been busy and lazy all at the same time. Don’t try that at home, kiddies, I’m a professional!

Where is the table now? Well, it’s been lovingly given some sanded in BLO coats and currently the legs and stretchers are sitting in clamps awaiting dry time. Three legs anyhow, seems that I’ve got to have one able to come off so I can put in that pesky lower shelf. The stretchers have been drilled for screws (elongated across grain to allow for expansion) and it goes together and mostly resembles the sketchup plan. Mostly. Where does it miss the mark? Well, I mentioned the little router incident..

In my vast ‘been a woodworker all week’ experience I was always taught not to climb cut with a router as that’s a quick road to loss of control and disaster. That was sage wisdom that I followed almost all the time except when a case of the stupids caught up to me. But in my prep for removing the bandsaw marks from my tabletops I read many, MANY articles on router jigs and techniques. One of the popular woodworking magazines mentioned that best, smoothest results came from a spiral upcut bit used on a very light climb cut and anything else was very liable to burn the wood. They mentioned several possible problems and their solutions but concluded that for this particular type of cut their way was the way to go.

Cue the stoopid musik..

I listened to them. I had made my circle jig using the PC straight edge guide, minus the straight edge part so that I’d have a micro adjust feature and could, therefore, take exceedingly light passes with the router. I secured the table top down with double sided tape just like they showed me (yes, lots of it), I practiced on a piece of MDF (yes, no grain, I know that..but practicing the technique), I lowered my never-been-used spiral upcut bit (with the router off) and swung the full circle to make certain that I was getting a light cut with no pesky oblong piece waiting to snag my router and congratulated myself for taking such precautions. In retrospect I’d have been better off breaking my arm patting myself on the back because then I wouldn’t have turned the bloody thing on. For the first few inches all went well, I had tight hold of the router, it was cutting smoothly and then somehow something caught the bit but fortunately I had a tight hold on the router so it didn’t kick anywhere. Unfortunately it tore the entire top off my routing surface, dislocated the pivot pin on the router trammel, rotated the top about 10” and drove the bit into the wood so hard it split along the grain over 3/4” into the top in several places. All before I could release the plunge or even think about turning off the router; it was that quick. This was accompanied by the most horrendous noise in the world which turned out to be 10% splitting wood, 10% router motor and 80% very angry sailor. Now I retired from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer and an initiated one at when I choose to do so I can make very spectacular noises and colorful ‘sailor speak’, as my wife coyly terms it, but in this case I was so angry I couldn’t even cuss. Nope, it was more of a choked howl of anger and anguish all at the same time. Worse than ‘cat in heat’ crossed with ‘little Jimmy plays the bagpipe’. At least I didn’t cuss.

In a masterful stroke of guts and sheer determination, or perhaps I was in plain old shock, I set up the bottom shelf of the table and routed it, the normal way, and had no problems whatsoever. I ended up having to re-bandsaw the top and removed about 1 1/4” of diameter to get to good wood again. There went my nice overhang between the edge of the top and the outside of the legs, now it was down to a less traditional, more contemporary small overhang. Figuring that I was now going to take a loss on the project to the tune of another tabletop I went across the street, explained what had transpired and asked the woman to come see what was what..which she did, about 10 days later. In the meantime I had the project on hold because I didn’t want to do anything until I knew what her response was. Turns out she likes it just fine and I could then proceed. Not like I would even dream that all customers would be that forgiving!

To somewhat more interesting fare. The finish of the table. I love the look of BLO on cherry (as you can clearly see by the pictures of my Morris chair that I haven’t posted) but wanted to give her some options. I did up three scrap pieces of cherry, one with BLO, one with danish oil and one with Formby’s Tung-ish oil wiping varnish which I then topcoated with three coats of Rockler’s Wundercote. Never used wundercote before but it is such a nice to use finish. Dries hard in about 2 hours (temperature depending) and within four hours was able to sand to a fine white powder without clogging the paper. Water based, no real mess, applied evenly with a foam brush (of all things!) and it makes a nice coating. I ‘stress-tested’ the scraps at a party by using them as coasters. After up to four hours of sweating cups and glasses there were no water rings at all and people thought I had very nice coasters. Ah, woodworking novices, gotta love ‘em! Anyhow the customer picked BLO as the best looking finish. The Formby’s left a nice shimmer in the wood and was my personal favorite, while the danish oil left faint but visible blotching in the wood. So right now I have the bottom of the table drying while the glue dries for the legs. Oh! It’s actually time to release the beasty from clamps.. so I’m gonna go.

Thanks for reading!

-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

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