So, I feel like my first blog attempt was a failure to anyone that read the first one and was interesting in seeing it progress. The first of this series was like show starting and then being cancelled after episode one ha.
Enough of my rambling. After two years, a new job, two little additions to the family, and a few other projects crammed in front of this one I am almost done. Being 100% honest some of the delay was from intimidation and frustration as well. I took a REALLY big bite when I took this project on. I didn’t have all the tools that would have made it easier so I had to improvise and get creative in some places.
Since I was bad about updating the series I’ll give the cliff notes and answer any questions/suggestion/comments as they come.
I left off the first part having the frame built and talking about the piano hinge. Here are some progression pictures to catch up.
I stayed with the piano hinges.
I dado’d out a notch for the middle seat support. I don’t know that the lid really needed the support, but I’d rather have it than someone’s bottom fall through. I did, however, make the support removable so longer things could be stored inside.
Well, I don’t own a bandsaw (really want one though) so this is where I had to get creative on how I was going to make the 3” thick side arm pieces. I also wanted to try and keep the furniture light. Here are some test pieces that I made.
I just used 3/4” stock to build up the 3”x3” legs.
The bevel cuts lined up better on the actual pieces I made. That pine wasn’t the straightest wood.
I then used some carpet tape and my scroll saw to cut out the curve that’s in the front of the arm piece.
Then I cut a bunch of little pieces to block out the two sides to equal the 3” width of the legs shown earlier.
After that I test fit the two together.
To fill the face of the curve I cut a very thin piece of maple with my table saw and soaked it in the bath tub for a bit. I then used the other side of the curve that I cut earlier on the scroll saw as my clamping block to make it easier to clamp.
I then worked on the cap piece, and that is where I got my first lesson on paying attention to wood grain direction and routing on the router table.
Needless to say I had to make another piece. This time I was smart enough to do a back cut and then feed the normal direction to finish the cut. I notched out the top to ensure an equal overhang on each side.
It might be hard to see, but I was worried about a 3/4” strip of wood being the only thing holding one of the piano hinges up so I tried to think of a way to beef it up so to speak. After a little doodling I came up with this. I took a 4” wide piece of plywood, notched it out so the 3/4” would only be visible, and cut a groove for the seat back veneer plywood panel to slide down into (serves as a double purpose to keep any gaps from showing if the panel/wood shrinks). I then pocket holed that 4” wide board into the vertical parts of the frame and it is now rock solid.
I also wanted this piece to come apart into two pieces for ease of moving and passing through doors. It was easy for the seat part. I just used for lag bolts to connect the two pieces, but where I really had trouble was with the seat back in the corner. I needed something that could stand up to someone putting their hand/body weight against as they slide out from the corner, but yet was easy to take apart.
Since i’m not a furniture maker or craftsman by trade the answer eluded me. This was a stalling/frustration point for me for a while. Eventually I came up with this idea. I’m sure there was an easier and better way to do it, but it was the best that my brain could fathom. So what I did was carry that 4” wide piece I talked about earlier across; along with the the seat back rails. I then made a tapered piece for the seat back rails to connect to permanently. I think used 3 screws (top, middle, lower) and screwed the tapered piece through the back and into the rails of the longer bench side. This was enough to make the seat back feel permanent when together yet was easy enough to take apart when desired once the back panel was removed.
Then I was racking my brain on how to attach the 1/4” veneered seat back plywood panels. I didn’t want to use nails for fear of when I stained it the back would look like a leopard covered in wood filled spots. My buddy that does a lot of wood working said there was a spray adhesive that was strong enough to hold it. So with his help that is exactly what I did and it has been holding well.
The top cap that sits on the seat back I didn’t want to just slap on there as well. I tried to put thought into where gaps might show if any part of the structure shrank. It also covered any unlevelness along the top that might have been there. So I dado’d a groove down the top cap to allow a slight over hang on the front and the back. In fact the nail holes in the top of the cap are the only visible nails, screws, etc. fasteners that can been see. I did my best to keep everything on the inside.
Next up was the face frame/panels on the bottom front. I actually made these like you would a cabinet door. They have rails/stiles with a “shaker” panel. I just cut a 1/4” groove for the panels to fit in. I took the panel and made sure to put them in each section by order they were cut to make sure the grain flowed across from one panel to the next. I know no one will probably ever see that detail once a table is put in front of it, but I think trying to make every detail as perfect as you can be keeps the mind ever thinking of how to improve and innovate.
Once the panels were assembled I screwed them on from the inside through the plywood structure frame to pull the frames to the structure and again hide any visible fastener marks.
I’m finally at the sanding stage and it by far has been the most time consuming. I’m sanding with 220 as fine as I can to try and close up the grain as much as possible since I made the silly mistake as an amateur wood worker and buying maple knowing that the wife wanted it in a medium stain. Rookie move that I’ll NEVER make again. Also with some test pieces and stain I’ve been fighting with the grain flip and it being blotchy. I’ve tried some pre-stain conditioner which helped some.
The stain I was playing with was from Sherwin Williams. It’s a good stain, but just having issues. I haven’t played with gel stains before so I don’t know if those would work better or not. Minwax has been the only other thing I’ve used. Like I said, amateur wood worker so I don’t have many stain projects under my belt. If anyone has suggestions I am all ears. I’m terrified to death that I spent all this time building this and I might mess it up finishing it.
I hope you enjoyed reading my work in progress, and if anyone else was working on something similar I might help them avoid some of my mistakes that I’ve gone through.
-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX