I know nothing about nothing about wood working. So I figured that keeping a log of what I learn and when will, if nothing else, give me something to point at and laugh in a few months.
So I made my box. That should be post #1, but it’s not really worth more than this paragraph. The box is: a 6×6x12 box open along one long side, merely glued. The pieces were rough cut on a table saw from 1×12x48 pine. It was the first thing I’d ever made with wood. Really, ever. In 42 years. As such, the goal was “the simplest thing I could call a box.” It’s not sanded, planed, finished…nothing. The result is plain, stout and wonderfully functional.
I moved from a tiny apartment into a house several months ago. I have a “reasonable” budget for tooling up and I live here alone. So… I have almost no furniture. No furniture as in “I sleep on the couch.”
The real goal is to make my own dresser, platform bed, workbench, computer desk/tables,etc. But I figured I should do it incrementally since I have no mentor, background or schooling opportunity. Plus I’m an autodidact in every other area of my life, why not this.
The next project up from the box: An end table to sit beside the couch. Again, aesthetics aren’t really a part of the concern. Doing some measuring I came up with 18×18” top, 24”(ish) tall, in two “box” sections, each a foot tall. All out of the same 1×12x48 pine. (Why this, you ask? Well, it’s the widest, longest board I can take off the shelf in Home Depot and fit in my little toyota, so I make due.)
As for joining, my first thought was to dowel the whole thing together. So I started with that.
The MOST IMPORTANT piece of this project is that it really has nothing to do with the end result. The physical thing is useful, but not the goal. It’s about doing a bunch of stuff, incrementally more difficult than the box, and seeing what fills my head as a result.
No matter what I did I simply couldn’t seem to get my cuts right. Then I posted something here about cutting to length on a table saw and “was shown the error of my ways” ;). Off to the hardware store for a circular saw…and some more boards…and those “clamp” things I keep seeing…and some glue…a square or two and a measuring tape.
Clamping the boards to my old kitchen table (a butcher block that has served me very well for the past 15 years) I still wasn’t happy with the cuts I was getting with my circular saw (it was a bit too exciting to find out the hard way that the blade turns the opposite direction I expected. It makes perfect sense after a few seconds of thought.)
http://lumberjocks.com/topics/28972 Again I posted a question here and learned about shooting boards and bench hooks. So last night I set to making a pair of bench hooks and a shooting board, clamped them up and went to bed.
Today was the day! I bounced out of bed (well… “fell off the couch” just doesn’t have the same ring to it) and went downstairs to start again with the help of my new toys and a jig for the circular saw that looked like a smart thing to make, and indeed ended up being.
I ripped a couple of my boards to 9” wide, so I could double them up for the 18” (symmetry and all.) Trying to cut them down, even with the bench hook, was problematic as I didn’t have a clamp with a deep enough throat to clamp the assembly to the bench, so I had a thought… I grabbed a lag bolt and had a moment of silence before drilling a hole in my old table so I could use the lag bolt as a dog. Worked wonderfully; not PERFECTLY mind you, but wonderfully.
Pleased with my result I used my shiny new doweling kit to put a couple well calibrated holes in each side. (Review: This thing is awful, not worth the aluminum scrap it’s cast from. There’s a right way to do make one of these and this is not it.) But I did get one top and bottom 18×18 made, resolving that I’d find another way to put this thing together.
What I ended up doing was gluing and screwing it together using 2 inch deck screws. I drilled pilot holes and overturned them as a poor-man’s counter-sink.
The whole bottom half took a few hours of figuring, trial and error, bad cuts redone, etc.
Armed with that I started on an identical piece that would form the top half. From 1×12x48 to finish was about a half hour.
The amount I learned from this still surprises me.
Factory boards aren’t necessarily flat, straight or square. Relying on them to be any of the three is a quaint little delusion that made perfect sense to me 12 hours ago.
I need a smarter way to square things up. Laying a large aluminum square over the top of something just doesn’t cut it.
A dull plane isn’t worth a damn. I’m guessing that sharpening that blade is a very particular process.
Rough-cuts on a circular saw, while better than freehanding on a table saw, are still insufficient.
Material preparation is almost certainly as important (if not more so) in wood working than in machining (where you can get something to .001 tolerances with simple diligence.)
Working with materials that are NOT well prepared (flat, square and straight) will result in some very strange gymnastics when trying to assemble your finished product.
All that said, it’s worth adding two things:
1) I plan to do more with this, so it’s rough state is something I’m happy to live with for a while.
2) The end product, spartan as it is, is precisely what I envisioned. I spent hours trying to figure out which way to join what to what, should this board be an outside joint or an inside joint, etc. But it helped me distill some basic principles about where stress is likely to be applied to the finished product and how that can help determine the jointing, etc.
3) I’ll never have enough clamps as long as I live.
4) The support work of woodworking is easily more fun than making the planned project itself. The amount of time it takes to get from “I need an X that does Y but is Z long.” to having The Thing in operation is amazing.
The next project is likely to be a computer table/desk I’ll make from a solid-core door I bought yesterday.
Well if you’ve read this far, you’re a trooper, thanks. I certainly couldn’t have gotten here without your help.