Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Head Games

The headboard of the Daybed will be made from this piece of poplar I found at Lowes Lowes'. It as a nice big streak of heartwood going through it's entire length. I try to pay attention of grain pattern whenever I do woodworking because only custom made pieces get this treatment. Manufactured pieces are produced at such a fast rate, the process allows no time to consider grain orientation. I like that wild streak of heart wood through the largest part of the bed. Some woodworker say the grain pattern is the soul of the tree. I can respect that, something did moved me to put it there. The darker heartwood of poplar is usually green, this turns many people away from poplar as a serious wood. Most woodworkers use poplar as hidden sec0ndary wood or paint it. However, the green will oxidize to a nice brown if you leave it out in the sun for a couple hours. The tannins in wood is affected by sunlight, we'll talk about this in future posts.

The headboard of the proved to be the biggest challenge of the project. I had to make a large arch on top of the board. This six foot radius was easy enough to draw using my old fashion folding rule as radius, clamped on the fixed end and a pencil draws the partial circumference which is the arch. Cutting it was harder because I didn’t have a bandsaw nor a jig saw. The thought of using the router didn’t appeal to me because I don't like my router. So I cut it straight at the tangents and then hand plane the rest into a smooth radius. The arch is glued to the bottom piece with biscuit, glue and clamps after I jointed the mating pieces so the two pieces will glue tight. The next difficulty is to attach this large piece of solid wood to the back of the bed in a tasteful method, making sure it can be knocked down, yet remains strong enough to provide rigidity for people to lean back against with gusto. I decide to go with a dovetail because it holds itself together without glue or screws. This makes it possivle for me to take it out and carve a design on it one day (when I learn how).

The problem with the pins of my dovetail (for those discerning craftsman reading) is it's weakness to the direction of the grain, even the strongest glue cannot help. I solved this by shooting a bunch of 21 gauge pins into the dovetail's pin for reinforcement. It's not traditional, but it should work. No one knows of this because it is hidden.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In My Tool Chest

Here’s a couple useful tools for the small work shop.

The $39 Kreg Pocket Hole Jig is incredibly fast way of joining wood. It is quick and efficient with no learning curve. The system is so well thought out that a novice can learn to make a stronger, more precise butt joint in no time. It actually makes wood working too easy and takes all the craftsmanship out of woodworking. The blue plastic jig is clamped to the wood, a step drill bit bores a hole at the precise depth and angle, an special screw is driven into the hole with the long #1 square drive bit. You can go to to check out their video on the product. The down side is the elliptical hole that is left, so I only use this on hidden parts of the project.

The $25 Cold Heat Freestyle cordless hot melt glue gun is a fun little toy that turned out to be very useful. I use it for quick household repair and as a strong wood working clamp. With a 30 seconds dry time, I found it useful in holding pieces wood together temporarily while I do dry assembly or hand planing small pieces of wood, it also hold templates to wood as well as keeping the wet stone in place while I sharpen my tools. The joy of this tool is that the there’s no wires to get in the way and the gun heats up in about minute or two, so you don't have to stop what you are doing when you are on a roll. The mini glue gun may be targeted for the hobby crafters to glue dried flowers to pine cones, but it proved it usefulness when we had to put up a new sign for the showroom. It was the quickest way hold the granite tiles and the acrylic letters in place while the construction adhesive cures. This little gun saved a day's worth of work since we were able to hang the letter without having to wait for the glue holding the tiles to dry, a dab on each corner is strong enough to hold up granite tiles.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making My Bed

I spent Thanksgiving with two hundred dollars of wood, some free time a couple new tools I was ready to try out. The goal is a day bed that I drew out in two minutes for approval. I knew What the end result was, I just had no idea how I was going to get there. The details would be ironed out as I progress. This would only work if I think a few steps ahead of any cuts for bore.
I do know of some limitations, the bed would be made down stairs and had to be moved upstairs so I had to make this with knock down ability. The quickest way to make a decent knock down joint from my aresenal is with dowels and pocket screws joint. 3/8" dowels are placed between the mating wood edges and pocket screws pulls them together. I could make pinned mortise and tennon joinery but that would take much more time than I wanted and the mortise would severly weaken the thin legs since they will not be glued for the knock down purpose.
To prevent the bed from racking itself apart, the apron on the front is extra wide. The side has arms and the back has the head board, which keep the thing tight and square. Joining wide solid wood is a tricky thing to do becuse of the expansion nature of the wood, so I had to make the center dowels tight and the dowels at the end had elongate holes to allow for expansion. I betting that the pocket hole screws will flex a bit with the softer poplar wood so the apron should not split once the humid summers comes.
Slats on the bed are joined with dovetails so it would pull the bed together and can easily be removed. The middle slat is made of much stronger oak to bear the weight in case someone wants to stand on the middle of the mattress and exert all the pressure to the least supported piece. I wanted to make sure this bed can handle at least 400 lbs and the additional impact from anyone who want to jump on the bed.
This is the product from twelve hours of work, I will talk about making the headboard and method of making this later.