Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More important than woodworking

Usually my posts talk about woodworking, what project I'm working on, a technique I used, designing my next project.  There are, of course some things which are much more important in life than what finish to use on a jewelry chest.

In January 2012, Nikki Ormsby was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  Her dad, Scott Allen is a friend of mine.  As you might have guessed, the news of Nikki's illness devastated family and friends.  After having been closely involved with battles against cancer several times in my own life, some on the losing side, when I hear about someone needing help in his/ her fight, I try to do as much as I can.

As you know, there is no cure for cancer right now.  It can be beaten, though.  My mom is still living after having been through two bouts with lung cancer.  It isn't easy to beat, though, and certainly not cheap.  Having said that, I want to ask for your help.  If you're able, Nikki needs donations to continue her fight.  If she doesn't raise the money to continue treatment, the prognosis is...well not good.  Here's a link to a fund raising page: http://www.gofundme.com/22ihps.  All donated funds will go directly to Nikki and her family.  If you are unable to help out financially, you can still help by spreading the word about Nikki's fight.  Post the link to Facebook, get on Twitter and tweet it, use any means possible to get Nikki the help she needs.  There is more information on Nikki's page.  Thanks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Lull

Well, we've hit the dog days of summer here in Central New York.  As is common in the northeastern US, the middle of summer is characterized by high humidity and temperatures in the mid 90s. It would appear that the jewelry box was completed just in time.

When it gets that hot and humid, the only things moving are mosquitoes.  As you might guess, I have been spending most of my days hiding indoors in front of the air conditioner.  Even though I haven't been in the shop, I have still been thinking about woodworking.

While I was working on the jewelry box, my brother-in-law asked me if I would be able to build him a gun rack.  He wants it to be an armory style rack to hold around thirty rifles and shotguns.  For those who are unfamiliar, armories store firearms vertically on racks which sit on the floor.  The biggest challenges to this will be making the rack light and small enough to get it into his basement, and coming up with a locking system for guns which are varying in length and girth.

Well, the first problem is solved already.  Instead of having one large rack, I'll be making several smaller racks.  By using a modular system, we'll be able to more easily move the units into the basement.  An added benefit for my brother-in-law is that he'll be able to have more freedom to move them around the room.  I also think that a narrower width will make it easier to come up with a locking system.

With all of this in mind, I got on the computer and opened Sketchup.  Here's what I came up with.

The slots at the bottom will be angled to accept guns with scopes.  We may or may not be adding a drawer in the base.  These are just preliminary designs.

Some gentle curves will give the pieces some character.  Even though these will be utilitarian, they can still look nice.  The notches for the barrels at the top and the stocks at the bottom will be lined with felt to prevent thing from getting scratched up.

Hopefully I'll be able to get started on these in the next couple of weeks.  Right now we've had a break in the weather.  Sunny skies and cool temperatures without much humidity.  Right now I need to take advantage of the weather to get some outside stuff done.

I'll have more when I get into the shop, but for now the lull will continue.

Thanks for reading.  As always, please feel free to comment.  Look for me on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.  Until next time...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wait for it...

I know I promised pictures of the project this weekend. Well, it is in fact done. It's done in theory also, come to think of it. After fighting the weather for weeks, i was able to actually get finish on, and it actually dried. For those of you who don't know, this summer has been humid and rainy here in Central New York. I was wondering if I was ever going to be able to get the finish on.

The finish is simple.  I already talked (ok, wrote, ok, typed) about the black dye used on the maple and poplar to ebonize those.  The next step was two coats of shellac to seal in the color.  Finally, there are about five coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.  Why five coats?  I'm glad you asked.

While it is true that poly finishes are done in three coats, I didn't apply it full strength.  I used a 50-50 mix of poly and mineral spirits to create a wipe-on poly.  What I learned is that there are many benefits to using this method of finishing.

Ease of application is probably the most obvious benefit.  With the poly thinned down, you have better control over where the poly goes, and how thick it goes on.  Cleanup is also much easier. Just open up the rag you're using to wipe the poly on, spread it out on a noncombustible surface till it's dry, and throw it away.  The noncombustible thing is because heat is generated as the poly cures and could cause ignition of the rag.  My favorite benefit is the difference in drying time.  Had I used straight poly, I would have been able to get one coat on in a day.  If I was lucky, the previous coat would be dry enough for sanding and the next coat in about a day.  With the humidity we've had lately, this would have been more like a couple of days.  With the thinned poly, the coats go on more quickly for a couple of reasons.

First, there is more solvent (the mineral spirits) in there, which dries more quickly than poly.  Second, the layer of film (the poly) that's left is much thinner and able to dry more quickly than a thicker coat of brushed-on poly.  All of this is good information about finishing, but after the last few weeks, you don't want to know about this.  Sooo...

Wait for it...

Here it is...

Stacey's jewelry chest.

 Here, you can see the contrast between the beautiful cherry and the ebonized maple top, feet, and drawer lips.

I never realized what a pain peel and stick felt could be to apply.  Thankfully it came out alright.  The pulls on the doors and drawers are held in with epoxy, and the mirror under the lid is epoxied in place also

 This was also my first attempt at etching glass.  It could have been better, but at least the letters and numbers are pretty straight. The other side reads, "Happy anniversary Angel."  We were married in 2006, the 2013 should be self-explanatory.

 These pics show the necklace hooks, there is one on each side.

What were the reactions of the Shop Puppies?

 Moose! Moose! Look what I made for mommy.
 You woke me up for that?
Dale added her opinion, but you can't see her eyes.
Obviously the Shop Puppies are not interested in fine woodworking!

As always, I'm glad to read your comments.  I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @cnyredneck. You can also like me on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Knotheads-Custom-Woodworking/222509914431528.  Look for me on Google+, too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Still going

As luck would have it, I still haven't completed the surprise project for Stacey's anniversary gift.  I guess the "I lost two weeks of working on it" rationale has now fallen by the wayside.  The good news is that I may be able to post pictures next week as I have everything glued up and ready for finish.  It's funny how the smaller projects seem to take longer than the larger ones.

At any rate, since the last post I have bought glass for the doors, etched the glass, assembled the doors, rebuilt drawers (which still didn't fit properly) and done a ton of sanding.  The new drawers actually had the same problem as the original ones.  This leads me to believe that the spacing on my drawer runners is off, since I actually made the new drawers nearly 3/16" taller than the old ones.  The problem was the spacing between the drawers was off... again. There was a 1/8" gap between the top and second drawers, no gap between the second and third, etc.

Well I was not about to make new drawers for a second time. I do it nice 'cause I do it twice.  I really needed a way to make these drawers work.  After some pondering, and more pondering, and a headache because my brain isn't used to thought, I came up with the answer.  Since I made the fronts taller than the sides and backs, all I had to do was plane the fronts flush with the sides, and glue on a new piece of wood to cover the gap.  I like to refer to this as adding a design element.  At first I thought I would use some cherry to match the drawer fronts, but as I was sitting at my bench considering what do do, it hit me.  Why should I ruin the flow of the grain which I had carefully put together by sticking cherry in with different grain?  I still have some maple left, I can rip down the maple, glue it on, plane it to fit, flush it up with the cherry, and ebonize it.  I'm a stinking genius! (Not really.) Well, genius or not, it worked out perfectly, there is now a perfect 1/16" gap between all of the drawers.  Now on to finishing, and the challenges that come with that.

As always, please feel free to leave me a comment, question, suggestion, etc.  If you enjoy what you've read so far, please add me to your reading list. You can also add me to your circles on Google+ (Knotheads Cny), or like me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Knotheads-Custom-Woodworking/222509914431528.)