I thought I would take some time to share the progress so far on my first “real” project and the one that’s really gotten me hooked on woodworking. I’ve always had an interest for making things and working with my hands and always have had a strong DIY attitude. There’s something about the satisfaction one gets when they have a task in hand and you deal with it on your own even if it’s out of your comfort zone. You get to learn new things along the way and you get the reward of having done it yourself.
My journey into woodworking really started about a month ago when I was asking my son what he’d like to get or make for Grandma for Mother’s Day. She loves birds and he thought that building her a bird cage would be a great idea. I agreed and started to think about how to go about it. The more I thought about how to make it, the more I started to think that I wanted to make this something really special and make it a Mother’s Day to remember.
I couldn’t find a source for inexpensive PVC coated welded wire panels and didn’t want to go with a mesh or other metal screen so I sourced a large used cage that would be as good as new with a thorough cleaning/disinfecting. Once I had that I had an idea of what the cage dimensions could be. I built in a thin drawer to make it easier to clean and a couple for storage. The bottom drawers are one area that I did goof up. I figured getting them properly aligned so the gaps on the sides of the front face would be the hard part but that went pretty well. My error was making the inside of the drawers too tall so they couldn’t be inserted/removed with the hardware installed. Rather than tear the drawers apart and trimming them down I decided to just slide them in then install the hardware and live with the fact they can’t be removed.
Anyways, below is how it stands as of now. I still plan to add a strip of quarter round below the top of the frame to make it consistent with the lower part. I also need to plug some of the pocket holes inside the cage portion, most will be hidden once the wire panels are installed and the inside edges are covered with trim. The bulk of the work remaining will be finishing, once that’s done I’ll install the wire panels and trim and it should be good to go.
I’m pretty happy with it, there are certainly areas in which my craftsmanship will only improve but I feel pretty good about it and everyone who has seen it in person figured I had been doing woodworking for a little while. My mother used to do a lot of woodworking and made a nice supplemental income selling crafts at shows for many years, I suppose the enjoyment I get from this is in my blood. I used pine, not wanting to hone my skills on more expensive woods. This was my first real exposure to using a router, making miter cuts and building drawers so I learned an awful lot and feel much more comfortable with my skills and tools and feel eager to start working with more advanced techniques.
My first order of business after this is completed is going to be building a router table and a folding assembly table or two. Making up jigs to route grooves in the drawers with a handheld router got old pretty fast as did using a 2×4 sheet of plywood on sawhorses for assembly. I definitely need to make some improvements to the core of my shop before I tackle anything big like this again, I made due with what I had but it would have been far easier with a larger table to work on or if I didn’t have to spend so much setup time to route some simple grooves. A clamp rack and more tool organization is also in order. I accumulated enough extra tools, clamps, bits and other supplies during the build that the storage I did have became full and I started running into things laying around haphazardly throughout the shop and spent a lot of time hunting for a certain tools/hardware. I also need to spend some time to make sure my SCMS is setup correctly. I noticed the miters weren’t coming out square when assembled and when making straight cuts through wider stock where I’d have to use the sliding feature the cuts weren’t perfectly straight. Not sure yet if I can correct any of that or if it’s just a side effect of a low end saw which it may very well be and I half expected that as a possibility when I bought it so we’ll see. Through this though is how one improves so going forward things will only get better!