Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Eating Bar

Before I got into cabinetry and woodworking, I was selling flooring.  The quest to understand woodflooring got me into woodworking and so it goes.  My other specialty aside from carpets is tiles.  So The project for this week is a floating granite tile countertop.
Granite tiles are 18" x 18" batic brown granite I purchased from work at the employee price of $2.22 psf.  The wood deck is 24" x 96" piece of birch plywood.  That is then ripped to 18" depth x 77-1/2.  this fits the wall at my brother's  with the 1.5" worth of  edge treatment I plan to add with oak.  The remainder of the plywood turns into the cleat on the wall to hold the countertop up and the angle support to hold up the deck.
I got the jig saw out this time to get some curves into the work.  I thought the bar could use a little more details since it will pretty much a big feature in the room.  The two angle supports are cut from the left over square piece of plywood.  The curves are hand drawn with my elbow acting as an anchor point and the pencil makes and arch and cut freehand with the jigsaw.  I figured I could draw a decent arch, it saves time and no one will look that close and judge how perfect the arch is.  The only time things need to be perfect is when one has to fit inside another as a lide or joint or a door.  Anything else, is not worth the trouble.  The first is a template for the second arch, again, close enough is good enough, sharp new blade and a variable speed Metabo jigsaw minmized the tearouts during the cross cuts.
In order for the granite to adhere to the decking, I had to put on some hardibacker.  This is
 screwed onto the plywood.  The chinese made birch plywood is pretty poorly made.  Though plywood is pretty stable when it comes to expansion, the problem is that the tiles is only as strong as the glue that holds the pieces of wood together.  The hardiback gives a very good substrate for the mortar to hold the tiles to, and the 30 odd screws holds the substrate to the plywood deck.  Expansion, and deflection has been dealt with.  
Before the tiles can be glued on, I had to put an oak edgeband on it and then route the profile on it with the router and the viarablespeed router control  I talked about last week.   This makes the profile of the edgeband  align perfectly.  I left the edgeband proud of the tiles, leaving just enough space for the thinset so left the tile up a tad.  So as it stands this is what the project looked like after five hours of work in the shop and one hour of installation at the site.  Next step is to take the cap for the bar.  But that would have to wait as I have two more projects to attend to.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taming of the Shrill

I finally like my router. I purchased a Craftsman router about six years ago, when I first decided to do get into woodworking.  It’s a one horsepower basic model I purchased for $99.  Norm Abram used it all the time in New Yankee Workshop and I felt I should have one.  I plugged it in, turned it on, and the bit grabbed the wood, shot shavings all over the place as the motor screams to a deafening sound, dust filled the living room and then the smoke alarm went off.  I wrapped up, put it away and rarely used it unless absolutely necessary.

That episode along with my table saw purchase scared me into hand tools.  I am glad because the use of hand tools slowed me down and allowed me to be a better woodworker, being more in tuned with the wood and the cutting process.  But I'm getting older and hand cutting with expensive handsaws is getting old.  I want more efficiency.  Do I want more power?

The power comes from an electric motor. Our shopping culture is obsessed with the “more power” concept.  The manufacturers would gladly take a cheaper weaker ¾ horsepower motor, tweak it to provide maxium power though not efficiently and sell it a 1 horsepower router that screams to the top of it’s lung each time it is turned on.

After hand cutting wood for all these years, I found that my 1/10 horsepower right arm can cut pretty well with a sharp blade.  So I purchased a variable speed router controller hoping this would tame the router.  At $39 this device pulse current to the motor so that it runs slower.   Since it sends pulses of full current like a capacitor and not weakened the current like a resistor, the torque of the motor is not sacrificed.  This little addition tamed my once loud screaming uncontrollable wood burner to a civilized piece of wood sculpting masseur.  Of course I have to make more passes with the router since it takes off less pieces of wood at a time, but I don’t have the loud sounds, I don’t have the pieces of wood shooting across the room, and not cloud of dust that sets off the fire alarm.  I’m beginning to like variable speed power tools.  This will change the way I work.

Monday, January 5, 2009

No Surfing Allowed

As part of my plan to get more woodworking done in 2009, I made a gate for the kitchen, keeping the place off limits to the dogs.  Well behaved as they pretend to be, they cannot resist the urge to counter surf when we’re not around.  The solution was to train the dog not to do this, not leave food on the counter or build a gate.  The latter was the easiest choice.

Now, another part of my resolution was to be less of a pack rat.  This meant I had a bunch of parts and wood laying around that I planned on using one day and then I have my “do people realize how much this junk cost?” pile.  So the gate would be made from left over parts I have laying around in the garage.  Now as the title suggest, I am the Cabinet Guy so what I have laying around is more elaborate than what most people have in their garage, so this is not staged.  For example a 21x54” cabinet cherry door from a client who swore this door was warped and wanted a new one, until it turned out the box was warped and the doors wasn't.  And some very nice 270 degree swing frameless cabinet hidden cup hinge which I bought for my condo kitchen project, but decided against it because I got lazy and took a short cut.


First thing was to get the door to the stretcher to  increase 5” in width.  No, just kidding, I couldn’t afford that contraption.  I just cut off the routed edges and then joined 3x6” oak to it with #20 biscuits.  The joints on cabinet doors are pretty weak, so I drilled and glued in a bunch of 3/8” dowels from the new extra wide styles to the rails.  That should make it strong enough for some abuse.  Oak joined next to cherry?  Yes.  I don’t care,, the dogs are going to scratch the heck out of it anyways and I stained the oak the match the existing oak trim to make it a little classier.  I did hand carved the end grain of the oak to match the profile of the cherry d

oor.  It’s the details I’m after in this project.


The door hangs on cabinet style European cup hinges from one of my past projects. I only have two, clearly not enough to handle the weight of this newly expanded door, so I solve it by putting a swivel cast I happen to have in my “pile”.   


That’s the project.  The whole thing can be removed when I’m ready to sell the house with out any damage to the existing casing.