A First Time for Everything and Everything a First...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by smartlikestick posted 05-23-2009 06:33 AM 1161 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

I finally made the commitment this spring and acquired enough stuff to try my hand at this dark art known as woodworking. Trees would tremble at the mention of my name!

After being somewhat successful on creating a 5×8 box for my daughter, I came across the 30 Day Challenge being sponsored by The Sawdust Chronicles blog and decided to throw my hat into the ring. I figured this would be a great stepping stone in this journey.

About the same time the details for the project were posted, I had just finished reading “With Awakened Hands” by Jim Krenov, and spent many evenings drooling over the works in the book. So, when the desktop organizer was announced, I decided I would model my design after inspirations from the book. Mistake No 1. Spending my waking hours as a draftsman, the design of the desktop organizer was not a problem. Heck, I can probably draw plans for anything but converting them into objects of wood representing the drawings is a different story.

With design in hand, I decided that my next task was to procure some lumber. I went to Chanin Hardwoods in Edmonton, and the owner Gary Chanin helped me pick out some suitable lumber for the project. Even though he refused to adopt me as his son, his help and professionalism was next to none. My paper design had the case being a lighter wood, and the legs/frame being dark. I ended up choosing QSWO for the case and walnut for the legs/frame.

The legs/frame structure was constructed from 1” square walnut, and I was quite happy with how these turned out. I think that the joints could have been a smidgen tighter, but after the glue-up I was pretty happy with how they looked.

I proceeded to resaw the stock into dimensions needed from my drawings. The 6/4 white oak I started with had a longitudinal check in about 20” long running down the side, which limited how much stock I was able to produce from the board. The other factor I failed to recognize, was the amount of wasted material from resawing on a table saw. Mistake No 2. This left me in a position where I’ve been adjusting the plan to accommodate my shortage of QSWO. (Part of the challenge includes limiting the amount of lumber being purchased to construct the project) I eventually got the carcass constructed and glued up to where I was not the proud owner of a box.

Putting the two assemblies together into one composite piece was challenging to say the least. The design on the drawings, really didn’t consider how the mistakes on one assembly would amplify when but together with another. This is where the project currently stands, and I have about 7 days to complete the build and finish the work. I’ve posted a couple of pics of the project below:

Halfway Done

Close Up of Joint

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the way it is going (I have to remember I’m a newbie, but darn it if I don’t imagine my projects coming out like your guys), but I would like to try and improve on a few things, and I’m looking for jock-support. (I guess you really need to include lumber in that last statement)

The QSWO has some dark spots, almost black stains, in the wood. Is this normal, and if so, can it be removed?

I’ve often heard people say that you can repair defects / looseness in joinery by mixing sawdust and wood glue together. I experimented with that, but when I did it, the glue seemed to be the predominantly visible filler material – what is the mix ratio of glue to dust, and what can one expect?

For a finish, I plan on just applying either an oil or wipe on varnish / poly as I want the beauty of the wood to show through. I’ve heard people say that by sanding when the finish is wet, the dust produced will also fill some minor cracks. Am I asking for trouble doing this with two species being finished at the same time?

Thanks for the help in advance – I know that there is no better community of fine craftsman out there who are always willing to share their wisdom and knowledge.

Once complete, I’ll post the project in greater detail so you can see how I faired.

-- -- Mike Beauvais

1 comment so far

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3622 days

#1 posted 05-23-2009 01:48 PM

If you have some scrap leftover with the dark spots, try using a scraper to remove them. When I was a patcher for a lumber mill in northern CA, we made a paste out of pva wood glue and the saw dust. There was no measurable amount -but we did use the fine sawdust from the palm sanders until it was almost like bread dough consistency, a very flexible putty knife. It doesn’t work well for large gaps. As for finishes, I’m no expert and I’m a little OCD, I wait for a day or two after completion, wipe everything down and then finish. I have found that if I don’t and the sawdust gets in my finish, I have a ruined finish -I can see it and feel it. What I’m trying now is a scraper which doesn’t damage the fibers as much and then apply the finish.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics