Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Assembly Table

In March of 2009 Marc and I attended a Greene and Greene woodworking class at William Ng's school of Woodworking in California taught by Darrell Peart, you'll remember this from my post of March 12, 2009. During that class I saw some really nice outfeed tables that the school had constructed on their tablesaws. I liked the look of them quite a bit and the utility was astounding. I've been using a shopmade outfeed table attached to the back of my saw and a separate assembly table, I had the idea to combine the two into one table saving valuable shop space while adding much needed storage space.
I started with the idea of one long 12 inch wide cabinet that runs 6 feet long, in the front I used two 24 inch cabinets and added a 24 inch space with drawers in the middle.
I used 3/4 inch domestic Birch plywood for cabinets and drawers and base frame but used the back face of the plywood because I found it to be more visually appealing once finished. The base frame is 2 inches smaller than the cabinets and has heavy duty levelers at the corners. I edged the cabinets with 3/4 x 1/4 inch strips of walnut left over from a previous project. I secured the cabinets to the base and to the back cabinet and added a 24 inch floor where the drawers will go.
Once the cabinets were leveled I placed a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood cut down to 84 inches on top of them and secured it to the cabinets with screws. This effectively made all the cabinets into one strong unit. On top of the plywood I secured a sheet of MDF covered with melanine. I trimmed this flush to the plywood top with a flush trim bit on my router then edged it with 3/4 x 2 inch walnut glued and brad nailed in place.
I made drawers out of 3/4 inch ply with 1/2 inch bottoms and installed them with full pull out heavy duty slides. I hung the doors for the cabinets using European hinges then cut shelves for them and installed shelf pins to allow for adjustment. I created pulls for the cabinets and drawers using Walnut in the shop and screwed them in place.
The table is finished with Arm-R-Seal inside and out and looks fantastic in the shop. I routed two 3/4 x 3/8 inch slots in the table to allow the miter gauge and crosscut sled to travel beyond the edge of the saw. Other than the added storage the real upside is that I now have 3 extra feet of floor space in my shop and maybe I will stop slamming my hip into the corner of the tablesaw.

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
John F. Kennedy

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Rest of the Beginning

You may remember the front of this cabinet from my post The Beginning from way back in December in which I created the door with a cherry tree motif using a bolection inlay technique which left the branches and blossoms lightly proud of the surface.

I started the rest of the cabinet by designing it using SketchUp, I continued the wood combination from the door, cherry for the sides, walnut for the shelves and the top/bottom, curly maple for the drawer and the back.
The box is joined with finger joints to highlight the contrasting woods, the shelves are let into the sides with dadoes. The back is 1/4 inch birch plywood with curly maple veneer. The drawer is curly maple with a 1 inch hole for a pull.

I used a 1/2 inch quarter round bit on the inside edge of the hinge side of the door then used a 1/4 inch brass rod attached from the top and the bottom as a pivot hinge. I used a cove bit to route a handle into the free side to keep the lines clean and simple. The door rests inside the edge of the top and bottom letting the walnut frame the door.

The finish is as simple as it comes, a few coats of Watco Danish Oil, Natural, followed by a rubbing with paste wax. I installed a french cleat to the back of the cabinet and attached it to the wall that way. I've very happy with the way this came out. I enjoy making Stickley, Limbert, and Greene & Green reproductions but sometimes it's really nice to design something yourself and see it come to life.

It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish.
J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wow, this was nice.

I received an email from Megan Fitzpatrick from the Popular Woodworking Editor's blog asking me if she could do a post on my Sam Maloof Inspired rocker and I was floored. I never thought that I would create anything that was worthy of notice from a magazine as good as theirs. Megan called me the following day for an interview and then posted this very nice article the next day. Thanks Megan and all the folks at Popular Woodworking Magazine and website.
"Be true to your work, your word, and your friend." -Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Finale

Well friends and neighbors, here it is, the complete and finished rocker. After many weekends of work, some re-work, lots of shaping and lots and lots of sanding it's finally finished. Quite a few of you have asked, and yes, it is very comfortable. The seat feels great, the back slats curve just right to support my back, the arm rests are just the right curve to fit, well at least to fit me. Last but not least, it looks great in my living room.

The rockers came out great, and with the chair upside down I was able to run sandpaper along the whole underside creating a smooth gentle curve to rock on. One of my favorite details is the transition from the back legs to the rockers, take a second to enlarge the picture and take a look at it, but pictures don't do it justice, come over and run your fingers along the curves.

The organic shape of this style of rocker is what draws people to it, and it's true, they just can't help but touch it.

I tried very hard to make the arms match and to edge each one with a nice sharp hard line. The smooth transition from the front legs into the arm is something people that have seen it coment on, it really wasn't that difficult thanks to the instruction on the DVD and book.

Shaping the front leg into the seat smoothly was challenging but the joint itself was easy and it fit perfectly with the two matching router bits that Mr. Brock recommends.

The crestrail is the most visible part of the chair and therefore the part I wanted the most srtiking grain on, when I unpacked my walnut the very first day I set this piece aside for the crestrail. I think I made the right choice.

I have commented on Mr. Brock's DVD/Book throughout the process of building this rocking chair only in a positive way, please be assured that I have no connections with Mr. Brock other than a nice Email he sent me after my first blog post. I was given the DVD/Book as a Christmas gift. I found the instruction and plans to be spot on, the templates and jigs described in the book are not overly complicated and very useful, I would not attempt a rocker of this complexity without them. I do have one criticism of the DVD though, there is alot of time spent watching Mr. Brock work with accompaning guitar music, while the music is good, I feel that I would have been better served by voice over description of the process. I do realize that this is Mr. Brock's first DVD and I haven't viewd his DVD on building a Maloof low back dining chair, maybe you won't agree with me, it is after all just my opinion, but yeah, less music, more naration please. Mr. Brock is a professional woodworker and instructor, I could not have even attempted this project without his product, thank you Charles, you helped push this woodworker to a new level.

"Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans, part 7

Last weekend I started work on one of the most elegant, and probably the most important part of the Maloof inspired rocker, the rockers. This part of the build is a departure from the rest of the chair, it requires some bent lamination. Mr. Brock adds a strip of maple and ebony to his rockers for emphasis, but I decided that I wanted to stick with my total walnut theme.
The book and DVD shows Mr. Brock slicing the laminations of the band saw with jointing the stock in between each cut and cleaning up the cut with a drum sander. I decided to use the thin strip cutting accessory from Rockler, this in combination with my glue line rip blade on my tablesaw makes for easily repeatable strip cutting without having to clean up the stock between each cut and cleaning up the bandsaw on the sander. You may say that the loss of 1/8th of an inch with each cut is unacceptable, but since I'm cutting along the width, not the thickness of the stock this is less of an issue. I marked a triangle on the stock so that I could keep the laminates in order after cutting.
I had previously created the bending form using the template included in the book using the cut off of the curve for a caul. The stock for the rockers is roughed to 1 1/2 inch thick so I made the form out of 2 thicknesses 3/4 inch of MDF attached to a backer board. I covered all the contact surfaces with packing tape to keep the glue from sticking to the form. Using Titebond II glue for the extended open time I coated the top side of all but the top laminate. After laying the laminates in order on the form I used the top caul to pull in the bend at the center, applying pressure with F style clamps. Adding a few clamps lets you work back and forth to bring the laminates into contact with the bending form. The most difficult part is to create the back bend on the end of the rocker, this again is done by pulling the laminates into the form using a series of clamps. I used a deadblow hammer to knock the laminates flat into the form as I went. The set up was left to sit overnight.
Using left over stock from the laminates adder blocks 6 inches long are attached to the rocker after it is removed from the form. This allow the sweeping transition to be created from the leg to the rockers. Using a posterboard template for the curves I rough cut the transition of the legs to the rockers on the bandsaw after aligning the attachment points. I used a round over bit in my small router to shape the outside of each rocker and a smaller round over bit on the inside edges. Once both rockers are roughed out I cut the legs so that they would sit on the transition blocks using the technique Mr. Brock shows in the DVD. After a little trimming and fitting the rockers are attached to the rockers using 1/2 inch oak dowels.
I let the rocker attachment dry for a week, hey I had things to do, I started shaping the rockers and the transitions. Again I used my new favorite carving tool, the microplane, to form the rocker to leg transitions and the shape the taper on the back curves of the rockers. After the microplane I stepped down to rasps and files to smooth out the transitions, following this I started hand sanding starting at 120 grit, progressing to 150, 180, 220, 320, and 400, I followed this with 3M pads, maroon, grey and finally white.
With this, the construction of the rocker is complete! It has been a long road, I started the first weekend in April and here it is, the middle of June, I estimate around 120 hours into this build already, what with remaking the back legs once and the front legs twice and taking my time. I've learned a lot about making chairs and rockers, and more shaping wood. I've watched the DVD over and over and poured through the book. I want to say that I would not have been able to do this if it wasn't for Charles Brock's efforts with his DVD/book and website.
The next and final post will go over finishing the rocker and lessons learned while building it. I'll share with you more of my thoughts on the DVD/book and lots of pics of the finished rocker.

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans 6

This weekend I got some good shop time since it was raining both days. I was able to get quite a bit done and I have to say that I'm really happy with the way this chair is looking.
I started by using the spindle pattern and marking out 7 spindles for the back of the chair. The good thing is that they are designed so that you can cut them out like nesting spoons, thus saving alot of wood. After bandsawing four from one board and three from another I cleaned up the cut marks on the spindle sander, how appropriate.

Next I took a posterboard cutout of the front profile of the spindles and transfered the marks to both sides of the spindles. I then took the stock back to the bandsaw and again to the spindle sander. Once everything was cleaned up and shaped correctly I marked a centerline on the front and back to aid in shaping and lines on the side to help me maintain the right shape. With a spindle resting on the table I used a roundover bit in my small router to shape the long top taper of the spindle. I then mounted the spindle in the vice and shaped a slight round on the front and a steep round on the back with the microplane, I also shaped a round on the short bottom taper.

After sanding each spindle with 60 grit on my random orbit sander I marked each to length and shaped the bottom with a 1/2 inch tapered dowel cutter and the top with a 3/8th inch tapered dowel cutter both of which Mr. Brock recommends in the DVD. With each spindle shaped and tapered I proceeded to sand them 80, 120, 180, and 220 grits.

With the spindles completed I sanded to headrest up to 220 grit and I sanded the inside of the back legs through 220 grit. After placing the spindles in place I attempted to fit the headrest but had to take it off a couple of times and trim and adjust a few of the spindles. Once everything was adjusted and fitted correctly I was able to screw the headrest in place. At this point I noticed that a couple of the spindles that had cut outs that did not exactly line up, so I marked the cut outs that needed to be adjusted and called it a weekend. Next weekend I plan on cutting the stock for the rockers and laminating them. At this point I cannot wait to start oiling this chair up and seeing the grain come to life.
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
- Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans 5

I didn't put up a post last weekend, so today's post will cover two weekends. Last weekend I did complete shaping the arms, fortunately they did end up both being the same shape. That was one of my biggest worries about this build because every time someone sits in the chair they would notice that. I'm sure that there will be many imperfections that no one but me will notice, but if the arms weren't right I feel like everyone would notice.
I had roughed out the shape of the left arm and glued it in place, I used this one as a visual guide to rough out the right arm, once I was happy with the shape I attached the arm in place again with glue and a 3 inch #10 spax screw.
The next day I refined the shape of both arms with the microplane shaping tool, some files and rasps, followed by powersanding. I've found that using the microplanes with the rough blades shapes very quickly, using the fine blades and cutting with the grain smooths the shape by removing some wood, but mostly by removing the cut marks from the rough blades. I then refine some of the transitions and tighter curves with round rasps and 60 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. After this I started with 60 grit discs on the random orbit sander, then 80, 120, 180, 220. If you don't like sanding, do NOT attempt this project, I've turned more wood into dust and shavings that any other project.
The seat is now complete, even the pommel detail with a nice upsweep. With the arms attached and the seat finished I moved on to the headrest for this weekend. Following Mr. Brock's instructions for the headrest I cut it to size and then came up with a shape I liked for the bottom of the headrest. Leaving the top square I marked the positions for the holes I needed to drill for the top of the spindles to go in to.
With the holes drilled and the bottom shaped I then cut a curve into the top of the headrest and drilled into the sides of the backlegs to attach the headrest. After removing the headrest I started shaping the headrest first with the angle grinder and the cutzall blade, then a sanding disc, some touch up with microplane and on to the 60 grit random orbit sander. Once I was happy with the shape I attached the headrest and started shaping the horns on the backlegs and the top of the legs blend in with the headrest. The blending was mostly done with the microplanes, I got it mostly roughed in today, but I have to tell you that all this shaping is manual labor, I sweated through a couple of shirts today. Here it is, next weekend I'm cleaning up the headrest and the horns, finishing sanding on the back legs and hopefully starting on the spindles.

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.
J. K. Rowling

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans 4

This weekend I got to some of the really fun parts of the Maloof inspired rocker, shaping some of the parts. To start with I refined some of the cuts on the back legs and smoothed the edges on my oscillating spindle sander. I then chocked up a round over bit in my small hand held router and rounded over the edges I could get to on the back legs. I stayed away from the area of the seat, the arm joint and the headrest. Mr. Brock doesn't talk about routing the edges but what I wanted was to ease the edges and leave myself with a guide for shaping the other areas.
Next I screwed the legs in place and using my micro planes rasps I fit the curves in the legs to the seat, careful not to damage the seat, I cut the legs until it was flush with the seat. I also used the New Wave sanding system
to refine the shape.
I laid out the holes for the back spindles in the back of the seat and after removing the legs I drilled the 1/2 inch holes and rounded over the underside and top of the seat. After a little more sanding on the seat I glued the legs in place and screwed the 3 inch screws in place, one of the back screws ended up going right through on of the spindle holes so those with have to be removed after the glue dries and replaced after the spindles are installed.
I started shaping the arms after aligning them and drilling the dowel holes in the arms to attach them to the front legs. I rough cut the shape of one arm on the bandsaw and then started shaping it with the microplanes which are quickly becoming my favorite way to carve things. Now I have to rough cut the mate to match and see if I can carve them both to equal, pleasing, comfortable shapes.

"Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win."
- Robert Heinlein

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans 3

Last weekend I went over to my friends shop to use his Harbor Freight lathe, well, it had died. Apparently the motor had given up on its short, dubious quality life. Unfortunately for me I didn't know anyone else locally that has a lathe and I needed to turn the front legs for my rocker, so I did what any woodworker would do, I bought myself one, I mean, I really did need it to complete this project, really. So I went over to The WoodWhisperer's Amazon store because it really is a painless way to support a great site and to keep Marc able to keep supplying us with fantastic videos.

Once the turning was complete, and I was covered it Walnut chips, the front legs looked great in place and the chair is starting to look like a chair. Now onto the back legs, probably the most difficult part of the build so far. After creating the tapering jig that Mr. Brock describes in the book, I tapered the adder blocks on the rear legs to give the proper splay.

Then I cut the tenons on the table saw and rounded the inside corner on the router table. After a little fitting and fine tuning with my small router plane and some paring with a chisel the back legs fit nice and tight with just the right amount of splay.

With both rear legs in place and the front legs on it's really looking like a chair, tomorrow I'll drill some holes to attach the legs. Mr. Brock calls for a Miller stepped bit for the attachments of the front and rear legs, and also the headrest. I have some more cutting to do on the rear legs on the bandsaw and a little more shaping to do on the seat.
You'll notice the Rockler Bench cookies on my table, I've found these perfect for holding the coopered seat for shaping, in the DVD Mr. Brock uses what looks like a cradle custom made to hold the seat, but since I'm just making the one chair making a special jig to hold the seat seemed like overkill to me. I simply place the cookies on the table and set the seat on them, the cookies hold the seat securely when shaping and sanding. Next week, the arms, wish me luck.
"When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package."
- John Ruskin

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans, 2

This weekend I worked on the seat, the front legs, and the back legs. I also rewatched the DVD yet again, it really is an invaluable tool. The first thing I did was to dust off my biscuit joiner and look all around the shop, I know I had some biscuits around here somewhere. In the DVD Mr. Brock uses Dominoes but he does suggest that you could use biscuits or dowels, they really are just to align the coopered seat. After checking seat for size I used a plane to trim off a few hundreds of an inch off of each of the ends. Once I was happy with everything I measured and marked for the joinery and cut it on the tablesaw. Using the 1/2 inch slotting bit that Mr. Brock recommends I trimmed the tenons for the legs. I trimmed excess material from the seat using the bandsaw then, using plenty of glue, clamped it up.
While the seat was cooking I picked some nicely figured Walnut for the front legs and cut them to size. Mr. Brock's instructions for laying out the mortises for the front legs were very easy to follow. I cut them to size then adjusted the fit with a router plane. Once this was complete I used the provided template to mark the front legs and cut the waste away on the bandsaw.
Once I took the seat out of the clamps the fun started, using an angle grinder and a Galahad carving wheel, I carved out the seat to a shape I liked then refined it with with a sanding wheel, a micro plane, and finally worked my way to 60 grit sandpaper on my Festool sander. I have to say that I never thought much about sanders until I got to use this unit with it's attached vacuum, does a better, cleaner job that any sander I've ever used, I have some DeWalt random orbit sanders that I used to attach to my shopvac, but it doesn't compare. I wanted to see how the seat was going to look so I splashed some mineral spirits on it and WOW!, it is beautiful.
The next thing I did was to select a board for the back legs and rough cut, then trimmed them out on the bandsaw, following this I attached the pattern and cleaned them up on the router table. The instructions call for an adder block to be glued to the inside of each leg, this was the last thing I did this weekend, stay tuned for more updates. Oh a last note, Charles Brock picked up my last post and linked it from his website! Unfortunately somehow my "about me" section had gotten turned off so he had no idea what my name was, and at the end of my post I added a quote from Douglas Adams, but I didn't put quotation marks around it, so, Mr. Brock called me Doug..., well, who really cares, I'm just psyched that he picked up my post.
"Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual."
Terry Pratchett