My Past Woodworking Projects – in Bulk

Hello all,

It seems I have been taking my sweet time in updating this blog of mine… Well, I was full of good intentions but it seems that time is just flying and that I can’t find much of it to complete the blog. So, here is what I will be doing below. I will be listing all the previous projects I have completed in chronological order. I don’t have the exact dates for each as these projects span about 15 years. I’ll put the years when I remember them.

Chest on Chest (around 1996) – Woodsmith plan #125
This was my very first “serious” project to start making my own furniture. I only had a brand new bought table saw, the same I still own today – the Ridgid 10”. Everything for these pieces was done on that table saw. Again, this was my first serious project and I had not learned the famous “measure twice, cut once” rule. I therefore cut much more than once. I have to say that I learned quickly from the first few mistakes not to trust myself and take my time in measuring and cutting wood. You can see the major mistake in the lower drawer of the top chest not being the same size as the others. Essentially, of course, all three drawers were supposed to be the same size. Well, I’ll pretend that this was my design choice and we’ll leave it at that!

Chest-on-Chest finished

Chest-on-Chest finished

Armoire (around 2004) – Woodsmith plan #102
I built this armoire before I built my bed and side tables (these were built together a year later). These items were the cornerstone of starting to furnish my new house. I had just moved from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom house. Finding cheap furniture was key considering all the expenditures both planned and unplanned (usually the most expensive, relatively speaking) that occur when you are buying a house. For those who have never bought a house, you should expect to spend an additional 10%, at least, of your total house cost. When this is not budgeted for, this is what hurts the most…

This piece of furniture was fairly big and unwieldy to work on. I’m happy to say that I had my father’s help on this one as, alone, it would not have been pretty. Fortunately, I had decided not to glue and screw some pieces in the armoire. I say fortunately because the weight of the thing was impressive with everything included. The box of drawers inside was removed as well as the top and doors.

The hinges I bought should not have been used on this piece of furniture. They are hanging hinges and I need to lift the doors to remove them making this an impossible process when you consider that the top actually overhangs the doors. So, once I completed it including varnish, everything was screwed in place and the doors were no longer coming off.

Nightstand tables (April – December 2005) – Woodsmith plan #124
These side tables were a fun little project to build. There were new techniques for me to learn and apply. The fun part was that I was making 4 in total. Two for me and two for my best friend. There isn’t much to say about these. Everything was pretty straightforward in the build. I took my time and they turned out great.

Living room coffee table (December 2005) – Woodsmith plan #141
The original plan for this coffee table was to use it as a working desk. However, the height of my couch is not enough for the height of the table once open. Build was fairly straightforward with nothing of note to mention. The only problem that is dogging me to this day is making proper 45-degree cuts! I can’t seem to ever get these correct whatever I try.

I have stained this piece the same color that I used for the nightstand tables and bed. You can see that color here with my then baby (3 months old) Weimaraner, Kimiko.

Living room coffee table with Kimiko

Living room coffee table with Kimiko

Wood station (December 2005) – ShopNotes plan #55
As my woodworking was progressing apace, I was ending up with lots of smaller parts that I didn’t want to throw out “just in case…” I saw this in ShopNotes and decided to build it. I had a friend help me who was not used to woodworking and to whom the rule, nay, law, “measure twice, cut once” was unknown. We had fun as I would argue that some things seemed crooked and he’s assure me that they were straight and I’d challenge him to recalculate and he’d see there were actually mistakes. There was also my workbench that we built together that fit together magically however many mistakes we made. We’re still wondering how it actually all lined up properly. Well, I imagine that if you rout enough dadoes, you get a few that are ultimately aligned! I’m not showing that masterpiece but you can see it in the background of some pictures.

So, the wood station was put on big casters, as I need to have everything on wheels, as it is a garage that actually gets used for putting cars in as well as motorcycles at that time. It served its purpose well until I changed houses and had less space. It was destroyed and the wood reused where possible. Such is life.

Bed (January 2006) – Woodsmith plan #108
This was the most challenging work I had done so far in my woodworking hobby career. There were a number of complications that I had never done before but the plans were clear and brilliantly made, especially for the lats. That was just brilliant and made everything much easier to assemble. The pictures show how it was done. For this project, I “had” to buy a few tools that have served me faithfully ever since.

Finished bed with Kimiko

Finished bed with Kimiko

Making the jig for the routing was a challenge in itself as it was incredibly important that everything be straight. I bought a new router kit – it came with a fixed and plunge base.

I then made the lats but they were slightly too proud so had to be put on the jointer to thin. Yes, you did see a brand new DeWalt planer in the background. This piece of equipment actually was taken out and used only about 3 years ago… for my home office project.

Office Desks (December 2010) – Original design inspired by the Sticotti desk design
A friend introduced me to a high end furniture store and I saw this type of desk. I was quite impressed by it and the fact that it was very minimalist and clean lines. This is what I like in the furniture I build. I used the pictures I could see on the website and made the design in SketchUp. I had no idea of the actual size and thickness of the wood used so let’s just say that I over-engineered it. The vertical posts are 1.5” thick. This is being held up by a top cross beam that is bolted in the wall studs. The three posts hang off of this via a 45-degree cut in. I later went to the store and had a look at the actual desk. The original size of the posts is 5/8”… Mine is sturdy! 😉 The shelves slide in grooves cut into the posts and are held there by this over only 3”.

01 - Office
02 - Office

The desk is somewhat larger and deeper than the original design. I was thinking of adding small front legs to it but decided against it. I wanted to see how it would hold up. It’s holding up very well after a few years of use. Both desks are being used on a daily basis as we work from home.

Hanging shelves and cupboard (January 2010) – Original design
I have build these custom made cabinets and hanging shelves for my best friend’s new house. She had an interior designer come and suggest various things for her to do to in her house’s upper level. Unfortunately, that designer not being a woodworker told my friend that it should be done in MDF… I hate that stuff. A profound hatred of it.
I made a design based on what she was telling me she wanted. She had seen my office furniture and really liked the free flow design and this is what she opted for her shelves. As everything “needed” to be done in MDF, I got a very good dust mask to start working. The whole project took me about 3 months to complete, including the paint job. As payment, she bought me the Fuji Q4 Gold. All the frustration and hatred of working with MDF evaporated when I started using the paint gun. What a complete and utter joy to use. And the speed! I just couldn’t believe it. Extremely fast and easy to use. Gave great coverage and I was able to complete this otherwise very long paint job in about 2 days. This is the tool that I use now for all staining and painting I need to do.

01 - Monika's Mezzanine

Fold-up desk (June 2012) – Original design
Epic fail! I need to redo this desk, at least the desk part. Well, it’s out there. I’m really unhappy with this desk. Here is what happened.

I laminated the boards using the conventional one up, one down configuration to ensure I would not get cupping. The frame was built according to my friend’s wishes and it needed to be very discrete. This meant that there would be pieces of wood that would server as a stretcher across the boards for the desktop. This resulted in an incredible curvature after 12 months of existence… I need to completely redo the top with the appropriate modifications. I think it will be easy to convince my friend that I need to put additional structures that will make the whole look a bit heavier but much more sturdy and the work surface will stay flat. I’m thinking that I could integrate metal in the cross-members so that it will be smaller but very sturdy.

So, that is it for all my past woodworking. I am slowing down on that front a bit as I have all the furniture I need. There may be some things that I will be redoing, for example the electronics and sound system cupboard that I built with crazily warped plywood.

I am now meddling in DIY electronics! I have built a pre-amplifier and am currently building an amplifier. The B24 from I’ve already built a pair of speakers, the Mini-Statements by Curt’s Speaker Design Works. I am currently building my second pair of speakers, the Ellam Flex 3W from Troels Gravesen. I will post pictures of the build when I am done with them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and happy holidays!

Posted in Original Design, Woodsmith, Woodworking | Leave a comment

Finalized Libraries

I am a happy man.

Finished Library - Office

Finished Library – Office

Finished Library - Bedroom

Finished Library – Bedroom

NOTE – Please know that you can click on the pictures to see a bigger version

This is the second post of this series.  I had promised that I would post regularly on this project… well, I guess it is once at the beginning and once at the end.  I was also talking about procuring a new tool because of this project.  Well, this hasn’t materialized yet.  I had actually bought the tool, made the payment and then waited for 3 months before being told that the company had “lost” a container that contained said tools.  I was reimbursed and not told anything about this anymore.  I was told by the store where I had bought the tool that I had to call the company directly to know when they would get more tools.  Talk about customer service…  Let’s just say that I am reconsidering buying tools and wood from that place in the future.  There are quite a few nice places around that actually care about the customer.  Maybe it was just that one sales person, as I’ve had run ins with him in the past, maybe it’s the store who has changed over the years.  I don’t know but let’s just say that I will diversify in the future.  OK, enough of that.  The tool seems to be back in stock and still on special so I may still be getting it.

I have received the wood from the mill.  This wood comes from J.T.M. Sawmill in St-Lazare.  A lot of wood was ordered for the project and I actually did not add the requisite 20%.  I just needed to ensure that I did not make stupid mistakes.  Measure twice cut once really applied here.  I still made some minor mistakes but these didn’t have a big impact overall.  More on that later.

Pile of lumber

Lumber for the libraries and desk

When I ordered the wood, I was told that there would be a two weeks production delay.  I then received the wood on time, considering I had to physically go there to inquire as my messages went unanswered and they didn’t call as they said they would.  Although a good place with very nice people, they are understaffed and that means that getting answers takes a bit more time.  They deal only in wood, which is very nice.  They have a nice selection of the more common types.  This is not a glitzy place at all contrary to where I used to buy wood.

I finally asked them to deliver the next Monday as I was going to be away on the Friday. I received almost everything on the Monday afternoon – was missing the desk top I had ordered.  He came two days later with it, essentially after the storm that left about 40 cm of snow…  While waiting for this, I started ripping and gluing up the boards for the shelves.  I will need to research this process more as the results were not exactly what I was looking for.  If anyone is willing to share his or her technique with me, I would be much obliged.  I used biscuits to help line up the 8 foot boards and glued them together, reversing the grain to ensure that there would be minimal curvature.  This seemed to work but there was some mismatch on the boards that required more sanding than I would like to do.  I am thinking that I should do the glue ups prior to having the boards finished and then finish everything in the planer.  Does that make any kind of sense?  I’ll need to experiment with cauls and also maybe cut the planks to close to finished lengths and glue them like that.  Or keep the lengths to a maximum of 4 feet.  I don’t know.  Following the glue-up, I cut all the shelves to rough size.

I then went on to the plywood cabinets, the biggest piece of this whole setup.  I cut down the 4×8′ sheets to rough size and finished then on the table saw.  You see here the setup I used with my Festool TS-55.  Fairly simple setup and works really well.  Spent a day cutting all the plywood to size.  The one error I made was on the inside shelves for the corner cabinet.  This mistake was not very bad as I had tons of spare plywood already available from prior projects.  The next day was spent on biscuits and routing the panels for the base cabinet.  The last day was for all the edge banding and adjustable shelving holes to be drilled.  Sanding was done at the end of all this.  Wipe down with wet rag, let dry and sand with very fine grit (220) and then everything was ready for varnish.

My painting station is also my garage as you can see.  So, everything was set up as I normally do this step and I started varnishing the first set of pieces.  I can only do 12 at a time due to space and setup.  I am thinking on how I can update and upgrade that setup.  I think I have a few ideas but suggestions are welcomed!

Varnishing was much longer than anticipated.  It took me 2 full days with a paint gun and went through a full gallon of Varathane Diamond Wood Finish Satin.  Lets just say that there is a lot of varnish on these parts.  The very nice thing about my Fuji Q4 Gold is that it took only 6 minutes to apply a coat of varnish to all these pieces.  This is a real time saver.  The finish that I get is very smooth and nice.  I love this kit.  The process I use is I apply three coats of varnish with varying dry times between them.  Typically, the second coat goes on about 30 minutes after the first one as the initial one dries very quickly.  One hour later, the third coat goes on and that dries for at least 2 hours.  I then sand everything down by hand using 220 grit sanding paper.  I have used a different process for the shelves that will be used again in the future as it saved me tons of time.  I then wipe everything down and give the fourth coat.  This usually is the final one but for the top of the cabinets, I gave a light sanding and gave a fifth coat.  The finish was amazing.

The next thing I did was to assemble the cabinets.  This assembly included glue, biscuits and pocket hole joinery.  It is fairly stable and strong.  What was nice was to put in the pins and then slide in the shelves and see that everything fit just perfectly.  Did I say I love SketchUp?

I then started on the desk for the kid’s bedroom.  I have been ambitious in its construction as you can see from some of the joinery pictured.  Some may say that this is not strong enough but you need to know that there is a fully stressed member of the construction joining everything together within the desk.  It is glued into a quarter inch groove at the bottom of the stretchers, both sides and front and back.  I cut all the pieces at once except for the front of the drawers.  These were an experiment in itself.  I used the Fein to cut the drawers directly from the main front board.  The key thing was to get the lines exact and the best scenario was to have the actual usable drawer fronts from this.  It. Did. Not. Work!  So, I resorted to an alternative plan and the drawer fronts were added.  The final result is very nice however and I am quite proud of it if I do say so myself…  😉

I then moved on to the doors for the cabinets.  I cut the stiles to width and size and then set up the router table to cut the tenons and grooves.  I don’t know how I ever lived without a router table.  The setup was not too difficult to do and then I ran all the pieces at once.  I did keep some wood templates for the next time I need to do doors.  I’m really happy with the doors.  They are amazingly straight and true.  Really happy.

It was then time for the real work to begin.  I had been putting this off for a while for fear of the magnitude of the task.  I had designed these and knew, up to a certain point, the necessary steps to do.  So, I eventually jumped in and started it.  Now for a bit of background.  When I got the wood from the mill, I complained that the 1.5” thick and 7” wide boards for the library posts were crooked.  I had made it abundantly clear that it needed to be straight.  They told me that for the type of material I wanted, it was near impossible to have it straight for the length required (8 foot boards).  So, I took it and then ripped all of the boards to correct width.  Unfortunately, I had not checked the thickness of the planks and they were actually thicker than 1.5” by about 1/8”.  Well, that was a problem, a big one.  More on that later.

I therefore ripped the wide planks to width.  I got a nasty surprise.  The wood, still somewhat straight, started warping.  There was nothing to do for it I though.  So, I ripped everything and then sorted through the crooked and straighter posts.  I marked the curves seen on the pieces to try to figure out how I was going to assemble all of this together.  The most crooked I put aside and checked that a 7” piece from these would be straight.  These were used for the cross members of the libraries.  I was less than happy.  I ended up pairing the similarly curved posts so that, when the cross members were glued in between, the posts would see their curves nullified and I hoped I would end up with very straight library sides.

I cut all the cross members to size first and ended up with a very nice stack.  I then started to set up the table saw with the dado to make the numerous cuts to fashion them to their final look.  This was a very repetitive process once the setup was done.  This may sound benign but I was actually very stressed by this section of work.  As this process was very repetitive, I was afraid of paying less attention to what I was doing and have two things happen:  messing up a bunch of pieces and loosing one or more fingers due to inattention.  Well, I’m very good at scaring myself so I’m happy to say that there were no mishaps.  As I was stacking up the small cross member pieces, I noticed that the stack was not perfectly straight as it should be.  This is when I realized that the posts I had cut were not perfectly square!  My lack of verifying the dimensions came back to bite me in the proverbial derrière.  My width was dead on 1.5” but the thickness of the original material was more than that.  I had to break out the planer and get all the pieces through.  That is how I created rejects as the planer destroyed some of them.  I also put all the long posts through.  Unfortunately, the pieces were not perfect so I had to take that into account at assembly.  This also meant that the tenons I had cut were not all exactly square and some had to be recut once the cross members were planed to size.  Much additional work but I did not loose too much material overall.  Let’s not forget I had not bought the extra 20% so couldn’t redo anything without additional delay.

Then came the mortises and the exacting calculations to ensure I put all the marks at the correct places.  I calculated at least 5 times to make the final cuts.  Everything went without a hitch.  I was REALLY happy about that.  What I thought would take only 2 days ended up taking 4.

I proceeded to dry fit everything to ensure proper alignment and practice how I would be doing this considering glue was going to be involved.  I needed to be precise and fast.  I dry fitted everything, looked at the alignment and hoped that the technique of matching opposite curves would make things end up straight.  Well, the glue up went well.  I had to fight with some pieces but overall, I was happy with how things went.  As you can see, I put three or four libraries together for clamping and curing.  I had to wait for the unclamping to see if things would be straight.  It worked!  I was really happy.  Everything was straight, no curves, flat and gorgeous!

I moved on to the next scary part of this project, the shelves…  I sanded them all down with my new toy, a Festool RO-150 FEQ.  Wow!  Is that tool the best ever sander!  It has two settings, a rough sanding and a finish sanding.  I used 80 grit sanding pads to make quick work of the misaligned boards and finished everything with 180 grit on fine orbital.  Dust collection worked flawlessly in conjunction with the other toy, the CT-36.  I now have a quiet(ish) dust extraction system for when I am sanding things.  Unfortunately, I dropped my Osborne miter gauge on the floor and had to recalibrate it.  There were a few shelves that ended up being cut crooked but I fixed it all.  There weren’t too many that I cut into a parallelogram.  I cut the lip on the shelves and tested them on some extra cross members.  The last thing was cutting the shoulders on the shelves.

I varnished everything as I usually do but changed a component of the process.  For the shelves, I decided to use my small Porter-Cable sander with a 220 grit paper instead of doing it by hand.  Now, that was a great decision!  Things went so much faster and that helped me make my weekend deadline.  I also modified my holders to they could hold 5 shelves each, making it possible to varnish all 40 shelves in two days.

This project was officially finished on July 28th, 2013.  It lasted a full 6 months, 4 months longer that intended.  I learned many things while doing this project, many things about both myself and about the work processes.  This project was the biggest I had ever taken on from the design perspective to execution to install.  All steps were instructive and achievements in themselves.  I have to say that I am extremely proud of this project.  This is my second favorite.  I loved it so much that I didn’t really want to deliver it when it was ready.  I do hope it will live on for many years and that it will bring aesthetic pleasure to their new owners.  I will still be able to go see it once in a while and am really looking forward to see it full of books.

Be well and enjoy what’s left of summer!

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My First Contract

Office Library

Office Library

I just got my first contract to build bookcases and a desk for two rooms for a friend.  These two items are my very first contracts.  I am so excited and nervous.

How This Came About:

I was discussing what I did with a friend and she was interested in knowing more.  She wanted to get my thoughts on what kind of libraries I would see her office.  My girlfriend and I had brunch at her place where we discussed her house and the extensive remodelling that went into it.  It is truly a beautiful home.

While we were discussing things, I noticed a beautiful solid walnut library in their dining room.  This thing was a least 14 feet long by about 9 feet high.  The posts were 1.75″ square and the shelves 1.5″ thick.  All solid walnut…  Then they mentioned the table.  Also solid walnut, about 2″ thick with 4″ legs.  Let’s just say I had to pick my jaw up from the ground and take care of the puddle of drool that came out.  These items are simply gorgeous.

We discussed what they would like and the general feel of the whole concept.  It needed to be airy and light.  Solid wood was important.  The room where this is going is white with natural birch flooring.  There is a lot of light that comes into this room.  Again, airiness was paramount.

I worked on 6 different designs, from the boring looking to something a bit funky.  What I also did was to recreate the dining room library look (pictures above).  They loved it.  This is what I will be tackling starting this week.

I have to say that I may have been a bit too present in sending them designs and revisions.  They were very gracious and never told me to go away.  One thing I took care of doing was to listen to their comments on the existing library in the dining room.  I was also careful to look at the other libraries they had around the house and inquiring what they liked and disliked about these.  This enabled me to provide them with the plans you see above as well as a twist to it that solves both a problem they have with the solid walnut one and a structural issue that I was having.

The Solution:

Shelf Detail

Shelf Detail

Shelf Support

Shelf Support

I devised the following locking system for the shelves.  This provides both structural integrity and retention – all while giving a flat surface to put books on and the option of putting the shelves either at 12.75″ or 6″.  I’ve already made a template to see if it would work and it does!

The next thing that I will be figuring out is how to make all these cuts as reproducible and exact as possible while minimizing the various change in setup of the table saw.  The shelves will need to be all ready before I start putting the grooves in.

Unforeseen Development:

I was really pleased that they asked me to provide them with something similar for their son’s room which will eventually become a study.  The son has been warned!

Bedroom Library & Desk

Bedroom Library & Desk

I will be updating the posts regularly as I progress with these two projects.  I’m really looking forward in getting the ordered wood and be making sawdust!  I’m also receiving a new toy for this project.

Until next time.  Be well.

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The End of an Era

Toyo 45AMy Toyo 45A has found a new home.  It is finally done.  I have stepped fully in the digital world and the sky is a bit darker today.  A bit of background if I may…

I have loved photography for many years now.  I have considered myself to be something of a “purist” where I did not go for quantity with an electric motor, but more for quality, at least what I felt was quality for my expertise level.  I bought the Toyo 45A in Toronto, at Vistek over 10 years ago.  I used to own a F65, then a F80 which I gave to my friend and still own my F100.  While I still was using these cameras, my favourite and most used was the Toyo.  About 5 years ago, I bought a Hasselblad 501C Black Edition used but in mint condition.  This camera was sold about 1 month ago.  That was my 2nd go to camera.

I also sold my darkroom which had an Omega D5-XL enlarger in it and more developing tanks than I care to list here.  Let’s just say that it was fully stocked.  I spent many hours developing film and printing 20″ x 24″ prints, both B&W and Colour.  Yes, colour.  I loved it.

However, for the past 2 – 3 years, it was not getting used.  None of my old school gear was getting used.  It was collecting dust and giving me guilty feelings whenever I opened the closet door.  I decided to post them on, an online classified website.  I don’t think I asked enough for them as they sold the very next day.  I’m more than happy to know that there are many “real” photographers still out there.  Those that take the time to dive in chemistry and print something that smells and needs to dry.  Knowing that someone will be fumbling with knobs under a dark cloth having people look at him funnily but with curiosity is really a good feeling.

I remember the days of carrying this smallish 5 pound camera on my back with film holders, at least 10 giving me 20 shots, a changing bag, sheet film and my tripod – metal, about 3 pounds.  I went up what passes for mountains around here.  Carried it to the top of “Les Draveurs” trail in “Parc National des Hautes-Gorges” or up “Parc National Les Grands Jardins” during my yearly trips there.  The best times were when there would be people coming up to me to ask about the camera.  I would always let them touch and have a look under the cloth.  They would be impressed by the size of the negative as well as the reversed and inverted image.

The Toyo saw the world with me.  We went to Portugal, Spain, France, across Canada together.  The Hassi saw even more – portability being sometimes more important.  The Hassi was part of my last vacation in Italy.  It photographed the “Bridge of Sighs” without the photographer knowing what it was taking…  A true friend.

Film and chemistry were becoming much harder to find.  Actually, the chemistry availability actually plummeted these past few years.  Talk about freedom from choice!  I will miss the smell in my unventilated room.  The smell on my fingers.  Going to bed awfully late as I didn’t pay attention to the time because I was so engrossed in the process.  The magic of seeing the pictures starting to show in the developer bath.  The happiness of seeing a reel of 6×6 cm negatives come out of the tank or seeing the perfect greys of a newly developed 4×5″ negative.  The tonality was simply amazing.  I even considered building my own 8×10″…  That never materialized.

So, as I said, it is the end of an era for me.  I am now fully digital.  I have my camera, a D800 (with the AA filter) and my Epson 4900 for prints.  I am still converting my negatives using an Epson V700.  That is a looooong process.

I’ve already taken quite a few pictures with the D800 that I like.  I am discovering the use of the digital darkroom by using Lightroom.  The picture at the top of my blog was taken in October 2012 with the D800 and modified in Lightroom.  In a future post, I will be showing a few before/after tinkerings.

Thank you Toyo, Hasselblad and Omega.  Thank you Kodak, Fuji, Ilford for creating fantastic products.  You will be missed.


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Let’s Get Started in Woodworking

I first started woodworking some years ago in my father’s basement.  He had a Crafstman Radial Arm Saw and some hand tools.  He did a lot of different things using these tools. He is of the “figure it out with what you have” generation I would say.  I’m a wee bit more of the “what tool can do this best” generation myself.  Now, I do think that I don’t have many tools and use these in some innovative ways sometimes but I have to admit that I did spoil myself once or twice…  I work hard so my hobbies need to be pleasurable, right?  I will soon populate my WORKSHOP page so you will be able to see what tools I have and regularly work with.  Some may say that I don’t need all the tools I have and some may be surprised that I have so few, all things considered.  I’m really happy with what I have and all of it has seen very good use.  I am now looking at upgrading my bandsaw.  I currently have my father’s old Beaver.  It has seen a lot of use from him but very little from me.  I did use it for a rather big project that I will be discussing in a later post and that made me decide to get a bigger and more powerful model.  This has been “something to get” for the past 6 years.  I’m a strong believer in getting the tools you need only when you have to.  So far, I haven’t had to but my next project is dependent on it.

To get back to the matter at hand, I started my woodworking hobby with this first easy piece.  I was living in a very small apartment and needed a somewhat attractive place to put stuff.  I have been an avid reader of Woodsmith and ShopNotes for the past 10 years and saw this storage chest.  I found it to be just the right challenge for my new interest.  I had just bought my table saw which I was keeping in my father’s basement.  At first, it did get more use from him than me… but I digress.

This chest was extremely straightforward to build.  All that was needed was a sheet of 3/4″ plywood, about 16′ of wooden mouldings and an 8′ board of cherry.  The main challenge for this chest was that I had not bought the correct hinges for it.  However, as I am somewhat hard headed sometimes, I decided to use these and “make it work”.  This ended up in providing a nice detail to the chest.

It now resides in my godchild’s bedroom keeping her toys safe.

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My First Creation

Complete! (2)

This is my very first completely original design.  I came about this design after researching many buffets from various manufacturers and never actually finding one that had all the things I was looking for.  I decided to create my own.

I used Google SketchUp 7 to create this item.  It is made out of cherry stained to a dark chocolate color using Saman stains.

  1. Creating the Google SketchUp model:  This was a bit of a challenge in itself.  Because of this project, I have become fairly proficient with SketchUp!  At least for straight lines…  This model went through at least 18 revisions before I was happy with it and felt confident that I could build and assemble it alone in my shop.SketchUp Creation
  2. Selecting the wood:  I went to my normal supplier, Langevin & Forest, to get the wood for the project.  I selected unmilled lumber for this (a first) as well as plywood.
  3. Milling the wood:  As I said, this was a first for me.  I used my DeWalt DW735 thickness planer as well as my Delta 37-275X 6″ jointer and went to work.  I practiced on many scraps to get a feel for how to go about this.  It ended up working really well and I will never go back.  I had owned the DW735 for 3 years prior to this and had never used it, not even for a test…  Imagine my glee as I saw the pieces of wood go in and then come out nice and smooth.  It did take me a few passes before I understood that I needed to flip each piece every other pass so that I ended up with a straight board.  My dust collector filled up very quickly as I had much material to mill.
  4. Cutting wood:  I then began to cut the pieces to size based on the printed plans.  I have yet to find a better way of doing this.  I can’t say I’m really happy with the quality of the prints coming out of SketchUp as the dimensions are difficult to read when you dimension things appropriately.  Also, the actual printing is a chore.  It may be just me but I need to find a better way of doing this.  Cutting the various pieces was fairly straightforward.IKEWHO?I believe that spending so much time in the design phase with SketchUp helped me better plan what needed to be cut when in the shop.  I call this the IKEA phase.  I find it fun to see all the parts together prior to assembly.  Everything is sanded down and ready to go!
  5. Complicated parts:  There were some complicated parts in this project.  This piece is one of the more complicated parts that were produced with this project.  I was amazed that it came out exactly as the SketchUp model said it would.  You may be surprised by this but the actual confection of the piece was “interesting”.Fancy JoineryThe central groove was also in line with the rest of the grooves that were supposed to line up for the wine separators.  All in all a perfect fit!  I cannot thank the people at Google SketchUp enough for this free program.  It is free and easy to use and is a fantastic tool for the woodworkers out there who want to create furniture.  I have yet to explore its more advanced aspects.
  6. Assembly:  This was a project in itself.  Keeping in mind that this was done by one person alone, I had to ensure that the building made sense and was fairly straightforward with little necessity of extra hands.  I was able to accomplish this by ensuring that the glue-up was done in sections.  The most difficult part was to get the frame up and glued.Gluing MagicI used compression straps to ensure that everything would stay in place while the clamps were put in place and tightened.  As you can see, I was a bit innovative in the clamping style used.  It worked and that is what counted.
  7. Stain:  I used my Fuji Q4 for stain for the first time.  The results were surprisingly good, in my opinion.  I used to do this step by hand prior to getting the gun.DSC_7141-2DSC_7166This was a pleasant experience as I was able to do all of the staining process in under 20 minutes.  I mixed 2 parts of Saman Chocolate (#119) with one part of Saman Black (#108) Then came the varnish.  I use Varathane Diamond Finish Satin for this piece as I wanted it to blend in with the rest of the dining room furniture we currently own – future project to be done, replacing this with something else, including chairs.

The Buffet is now filled with a collection of Whiskey, great wines and other spirits, its two drawers are being used for placemats and other smaller items.

Overall, this is the nicest piece I have built, ever.  This is the one I am most proud of.  You will see in my other future posts other items I have created based on my designs, modified items I have seen as well as unmodified  Woodsmith plans (most of my current furniture).  I am now confident enough in my woodworking and drafting abilities to continue exploring new ideas of increasing complexity and personal usefulness.

Ultimately, for me, usefulness is the most important part of my woodworking.  Every piece I craft need to serve a purpose and last a lifetime.

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