Plane Till, Side A

Side 1 of the Plane Till has been very satisfying.  First side 1 will house many of my most used planes include jointers, smoothing, block and miter.  Second though, these are all simply shaped planes so they are easy to make tight fitting homes for.

I have created all the dados which have fairly snug fits.  I have cut the actual dividers and flattened the top (after rounding over the tops and not liking that).  I cut in dado grooves for the dividers in their mated pairs.  Now it's time for a dry fit.

Dry fit of dividers in plane till side 1

Dry fit of dividers in plane till side 1

Once I was happy with the fit of each component, it was time to glue it up.  I needed to get the clamps in position and have a nice strategy for glueing up the dividers.

Glue up of dividers into plane till side 1

Glue up of dividers into plane till side 1

Next I used a block plane and some sand paper to smooth out any irregularities in the tops of the dividers.  I still want to take some sand paper and ease the edges.

Test fit of planes after glue up.

Test fit of planes after glue up.

My last steps on side 1 will be to add magnets to ensure the planes stay in their homes even when the plane till is near vertical.  I'm happy with the result.  Now it's on to the more challenging side 2 of the plane till cabinet build.

Divided we organize!

With all the dado's done yesterday, it was time to focus on the dividers that will fit into the dados.

Divider's cut to rough size

Divider's cut to rough size

As I said in the last post, I would come to regret using the big box plywood.  Cutting the dado's was not simple in that the very thin veneer surface layer chipped out quite a bit.  I'm still going with it but I'd be pretty disappointed if I was building furniture.

I'm also using some trim I got from the big box store.  It's just oak strips with a half round.  I complete the round so that the top has a nice round to it.  I just use a spokeshave and some sandpaper and work until it feels right.

The next step is to fit all these pieces together and glue them in place.

New Project - A Plane Till

Since I just finished a big project for the inside of my house (see the past year's Desk's for my 2 sons), I decided it would be ok to turn my attention to a shop project.  My focus is to improve access to my hand planes.  In using the planes for the past project, I determined that access was challenging using the shelves in my tool cabinet.  So it's time for a Tool Cabinet 2.0, aka a Plane Till.

When going to Woodworking Shows or Tool Shows like the Lie-Nielsen Tool Event that roams the country every year, I always see how the hand planes are displayed and think that if a similar strategy was applied to a tool cabinet, then access to the planes would be improved so that is my goal.

The first step is to work on the actual till.  I plan on 2 parts to the plane till.  One part or side will be for the main bench planes and the other part or side will be for some of the more specialty planes.

I'm taking 2 pieces of 1/2" plywood (home center birch, which I'll probably regret) an doing the layout on that.

Side 1 - defining the perimeter with dados

Side 1 - defining the perimeter with dados

I've decided to separate each plane with thin strips of trim placed in dados that will be about 3/16" deep.  You can see the tools that I'm using for the perimeter.

Initial try at the divided plane storage

Initial try at the divided plane storage

I had to switch tools for the actual divided storage dados as you can see above.  I also learned from my initial try that the old adage of measure twice is a good one.  I had to start over.

Divided plane storage dados complete

Divided plane storage dados complete

Without the planes though, it's hard to get an idea of what I'm going after.

Layout with the planes as a demo

Layout with the planes as a demo

As you can see, everything will have a nice storage location with rough, medium and fine tools (I follow Chris Schwarz' book for prepping boards).  The other side will be more challenging for the layout since specialty planes rarely fit in nice rectangles like the various bench planes did on this first side.

Overall, it was good to be back in the shop and working.  I'm glad that my new furnace is working and keeping the shop at the perfect temperature.  I'm really looking forward to working over the winter.  I made plenty of shavings.

Shavings for the first part of the plane till

Shavings for the first part of the plane till

Next, I will work on the dividers to fit into the dados and then magnets in each of the plane location to give additional holding power.

Shop Update

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a small space furnace installed.  It has a programable thermostat and could warm up the shop from 40's to 65 in 30 minutes.  As with most furnaces, it had a chimney exiting through the roof to vent.

Unfortunately, the chimney install was not perfect.  We have begun our fall weather cycle and are getting rain and colder temperatures.  The roof leaked.  Not only did the roof leak but the water flowed right into the new space furnace and shorted it out.  Not only did the furnace get shorted out but the furnace shorted out with the gas line in full open position.

We were lucky in that we were at home when it happened and smelled it and turned off the gas to the furnace at it's shutoff valve.  They repaired the roof leak that day too and it hasn't leaked since even with some significant downpours.

Our only issue was that it took 3+ weeks to get the parts to repair the furnace.  It's now fixed and all is good with the world.  I'm back in my shop and it's nice and warm so I can actually work this winter (which is good since we, like the rest of the country, had a significant cold spell).

Turn up the heat!

My shop is a smaller space but is dedicated.  It fits my benches and tools nicely so that I have room enough to work on projects of various sizes.  Check out the previous series of posts on my sons' desks.  I did move the desks finish work to my garage but a single desk would have had plenty of room for finishes to be applied.

In the winter though, the shop becomes nearly unusable.

Heating in the shop - version 1.0

Heating in the shop - version 1.0

In the worst of the winter, the temperature in the shop would fall to the upper 40's to low 50's.  As you can see, I had 2 radiant electric heaters in the shop.  If I turned these on and came back in an hour or so, I could get to the upper 50's and maybe even 60's.  Overall, the shop isn't fun in the winter with this temperature range.

So...I decided to investigate other heating options.  I talked to my residential HVAC folks and they said a Resner style heater would be more than enough for this space.  It's a gas burning heater with a fan.

Now that I had a plan, it was time to execute.  I had to remove an air filter first and do some pathwork on my walls.

Making room for a new heater

Making room for a new heater

Fortunately, when I had this space built, I had a gas stub out placed in the shop for future use.  I just wish I had taken advantage of that years earlier.  The HVAC folks did a great job of running additional gas pipe and a new electrical circuit and they did it while keeping the impact on my shop to zero.

Front of the heater

Front of the heater

The location of the heater is approximately where the old air filter was.  It's size is pretty similar too.  As you can see the front has some adjustable louvers to control the air flow.

Heater - backside where the gas input, electrical hookup, and chimney hookup are

Heater - backside where the gas input, electrical hookup, and chimney hookup are

The heater has a simple chimney going through the roof.  You can see the gas and electrical hookup along with the simple blower that passes over the heating coils.

One additional benefit of this heating system is that there is a standard programable thermostat so that I can keep the shop in a more normal temperature range for woodworking.  I'm really looking forward to this winter and the woodworking I should be able to accomplish.

I'm heading to California to help my folks out on some projects but when I get back, I hope to really tackle some new tool storage.

Programable thermostat - yay!

Programable thermostat - yay!

Desks are done!

A little over a year and I can finally say that my sons' desks are done.  I worked wood, assembled wood, sanded wood, and finished wood.

My younger son, Mitchell, was the most excited so I let him pick which desk to put in his room.  The desks are so similar, it wasn't much of a reward but still...

Mitchell's desk in place before the computer gets added

Mitchell's desk in place before the computer gets added

For both the boys' rooms, we took this as an opportunity to do some spring cleaning.  This allowed us to free up room so that the desks can fit with plenty of space.  On each desk, I installed a power strip so to hide (mostly) any cables for the computers.

Mitchell elected to move his main computer into his room and has been enjoying it a lot for the last 24 hours.  Xander has taken a more cautious approach and has his laptop in his room on the desk rather than his main computer.  I guess he likes hanging out with his Mom and Dad more which is interesting.

Xander's desk in place before much computer hardware gets added

Xander's desk in place before much computer hardware gets added

You can see that for Xander, he'll have the opportunity to play with computer recording his guitar playing as his skills improve if he is interested.

Today I took a day off of chores and everything in celebration of being finished.  Tomorrow I need to get to work putting stuff away in storage so that Kathy can park her car in the garage again.

Next project options include a re-imagined wall hanging tool chest (I've come up with ideas based on how I worked on this project) or a jewelry chest for Kathy.  It'll be a few weeks before I get to any project though as school is starting for the boys soon and I have some volunteering that needs to happen.

Approaching the Finish line

All week long, I've been working on applying the finishes to the desks.

After getting the sanding done from the previous post, I applied 2 coats of shellac while doing a quick and light sanding using 320 grit between coats.  Next I applied a varnish with poly.  For the base, I applied 2 coats of varnish - no sanding between coats.  For the top, I'm still working on it and probably will apply at least 4 coats of varnish.

Almost finished, only a coat or 2 of varnish left

Almost finished, only a coat or 2 of varnish left

I applied some wax to the drag points inside the drawer frame and on the drawer itself.  Now is glides like a dream.

After the finish is complete, I'll move the desks inside and get their bedrooms ready for the desks.

Almost done!

Sanding, Sanding and more Sanding

With the bases assembled and the tops flattened (along with the edges tapered), it was time to head down the home stretch.  Finishing has always been frustrating for me but I have realized it has been frustrating because I skip so many steps.

First step is to sand.  I sanded the entire desk (both of them) using 80 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit and finally 220 grit.

Sanding using everything I've got

Sanding using everything I've got

I'm using my power sanders when I can (I have a 6" Festool and a smaller Festool which includes corner attachments).  Once I'm no longer able to use the power tools, I move to hand sanders and then finally to blocks wrapped in sand paper or just folded sand paper. 

I approach both sanding and finishing the desk in 2 stages.  I first approach the underside of the desk with both sanding and finishing.  Then I will approach the top side.  While I do the underside, I also finish the drawer.

Before I apply any finish, I use a folded piece of 220 grit and ease all the edges.  One of the most important tools while sanding, I've found, is my fingers.  I use my fingers to feel every edge to make sure that everything is smooth and not sharp.

I use a wet rag and wipe down all the sanded surfaces and then sand again to remove the raised grain.  I then follow it up with some tack cloth to get all the dust off the piece.

Next it's time to work on the finish.  I will apply 2 coats of shellac and then some poly over that.  On the base, I will apply 2 coats of poly and on the top of the desktop, I will apply a few extra coats to give it some durability.  I am lightly sanding between coats with 320 or 400 grit sandpaper.

Patches in Seattle

I grew up in Southern California and one of the shows on TV for kids was "Hobo Kelly".  I don't remember much about the show but since we only had 5 TV stations when I was a kid, we watched what was on.  We moved to Seattle about 20 years ago and apparently there was a male version of Hobo Kelly called "Patches".  Other than I'm patching up knots and other defects, this little story doesn't really have anything to do with woodworking.

On the desktops, there were several knots.  Only one was on the top but there were still several on the bottom of the desktop.  I chiseled out any loose material from the knot and then prepared some epoxy.  The hardened epoxy stabilizes the knot so that it won't loosen or decay over time.

Patches - a knot filled with epoxy

Patches - a knot filled with epoxy

Once the epoxy is dry, I then scrape and sand it smooth with the surface being especially careful to not over emphasize the knot.  I do NOT want to have to reflatten the tops.  The epoxy is smooth and looks natural in the top.

Next, on the underside of one of the tops, I had a crack.  It was still tightly joined so I decided to create a butterfly patch.  The notion is that the patch becomes a dead end for the crack so it can't grow.  I create the patch from maple and then use my thinnest marking knife, I mark an outline of the patch.  Using chisels to further deapen the knife cuts, I use chisels and a small router plane to create a hollow to accept the patch.  The goal is to go deep enough to stop the crack.

Patches - a butterfly patch made from maple to stop a crack

Patches - a butterfly patch made from maple to stop a crack

The butterfly patch turned out very nice that it's almost a shame it's on the underside.  Pretty good for my first attempt at this technique.

My last repair was a chip from the edge of the other desktop.  I took a piece of maple and cut it to the desired shape of the patch.  Then I did exactly the same as I did for the butterfly patch using a knife and chisels to create the outline and then a router plane to deepen the cutout.  This was a little simpler than the butterfly though.

Patches - an edge patch being prepped

Patches - an edge patch being prepped

I then glued and clamped the patch in place.

Did you notice that I said the patch was maple?  Oops, that was not what I meant for this one.  Of course, I didn't figure this out till after the glue was dried.  Fortunately, removing the maple patch turned out to be simple.  I found some cherry scrap and made a new patch., ensuring it's a little bigger and deeper.  The cherry patch actually wound up fitting much nicer than the maple one so I'm happy about this accident.

After I clean up the last of the epoxy and the above cherry patch, I will move on to make 2" holes for the cable grommits.

Lighten up!

With traditional Shaker style furniture, you get a very light and almost dainty look because the legs are either tapered or turned (or both?).  In addition, the tops on tables often have overhangs which allow the top's underside to be tapered.  This allows a thick top providing for weight and stability but also a visual line that gives it that light and dainty look to match the legs.

Even though these two desks will probably never be in the same room (except while I'm building them), I still wanted them to have a similar look.  The tops though were almost 1/4" different in their thickness.  While I was tired of flattening the tops, I knew that I had to add the taper to the underside of the tops.

The taper will leave 1/2" profile on the sides and taper towards the center 1 3/4".

Start taper on the end grain

Start taper on the end grain

I started the tapers on the end grain.  Before starting, I chisel the end out in a mild slope to prevent tearout.  The ends take a bit of time but I work carefully to the knife lines I made at the dimensions I mentioned above.

Mitchell pitching in to help

Mitchell pitching in to help

After the ends are done, I work on the long grain sides.  The long sides go a little faster though I do have to watch grain direction.  As you can see, I managed to get Mitchell out to help a bit (though he was grumpy from a full day of work at a robotics summer camp).

The corner detail where both tapers meet

The corner detail where both tapers meet

Above you can see the corner detail where the end and front tapers meet.

Background: desk with no taper;  foreground: desk with taper

Background: desk with no taper;  foreground: desk with taper

Above you can see the nice thin line that the taper gives the edge of the desk top which is actually about 1 1/8" thick but gives an impression of a much thinner top.  In the background you can see the desktop that I have not tapered which is just shy of 1" thick.  Once it is tapered both tops will have a very similar appearance even though there is about 1/4" difference in thickness.

Next steps include creating holes for cable grommets (these are for my sons who will mostly use them for computers to use for homework and games), stabilizing some knots (the knots are mostly on the underside), fix at least one chip, and stabilize a crack with a butterfly (I've never done this before).