Monday, November 14, 2011

Web frames and Dividers

What a great weekend of woodworking I just had!  We had Friday off for Remeberance day and my wife went off to Halifax to visit some friends.  So I had three fun filled days of wood working. awesome!  So what did I get done?  Well I was able to build and install all of the web frames and dividers for one of the two dressers.
I made each of the web frames out of ash and oak.  The front drawer blade is primary wood - red oak and the drawer runners and back blade are secondary wood, in this case ash.  The drawer blades are installed into the case sides in 1/4 deep sliding dovetails.  The runners set into 1/8" deep rabbets in the case sides. When I built the nightstands to match this piece, I decided to make the drawer blades stand 1/4" proud of the drawer faces.  This is an idea I picked up from some of Sam Maloof's dresser projects and I thought it would help to enhance the horizontality of the nightstands since these are next to our very wide king sized bed which has all the vertical pickets.  This made the build a bit more complex however.  For the front drawer blades all I did was to glue on a 1/4" wide strip of oak on the front.  This allowed me to cut the male part of the dovetail on the router table.  It also had the added benefit of hiding any tear out my router made when cutting the slots in the case sides.  Darn oak is tough to work with,  It's very stringy and fibrous.  The tough part came when I was trying to decide how to install the two vertical drawer dividers in the top drawer spaces.   In my furniture making I try very hard to include traditional joinery methods and shy away from using screws or nails etc. in my work as much as I can.  For me, cutting the joinery is one of the most fun parts of the project.  So I had a bit of a tough time getting the top divider in.  The lower vertical deivider was pretty straight forward. All I did was to use sliding dovetails and these were covered up with the 1/4" thick banding.  The low end of the upper divider was done the same way.  The top end of the top divider was the more complicated part.  The problem is that I couldn't cut a dovetail slot in the top of the cascase since it stands proud of the face of the case. Plus I needed to install the divider after the upper web frame was installed because of the presence of the center drawer runner.  So my solution was to (begrudgingly) install a biscuit in the case top and then cut a open ended slot in the top and back face of the divider using the biscuit jointer.  That sounded like a great plan until I realized late saturday night that I loaned by biscuit jointer to a friend.  Drats!  So what I finally ended up doing (and happy I did) was to make a slip tenon in lieu of a biscuit.   I chopped a mortise into the case top with a mortise chisel and then I handsawed a slot into the top of the divider kind of like sawing a half-blind dovetail socket.  I made a slip tenon on the table saw and slid the divider right in.  Worked great and I'm satisfied I still have all wood joinery.  The only trouble now is that I have to do it all over again for the second chest.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dresser Carcases complete

Here an update to where I am with the double dresser I'm building for our master bedroom.  This project has taken me a lot longer than I had planned.  (Typical)  I don't remember when I started this thing but it was probably back in January or February of this year.  I started by milling up the wood and glueing up the panels.  I typically use biscuits for alignment and these proved to work very well as there was minimal handplaning to flatten the panels ....  initially. A big reason for the long time delay on this project was that over the course of the summer I fenced in my back yard with a custom build cedar fence.

The purpose for putting in the fence was so we could put in an above ground pool in the yard and comply with our municipal by-laws.  I had only planned on putting in the pool next summer but come fall there were some great deals on used pools online so I couldn't resist. We ended up purchasing a 27 foot above ground pool and I installed it all myself with a lot of help from my friend Trevor.

Well now that we're well into the fall and what I consider as prime woodworking season, I'm back in the shop and I've finally finished hand cutting all of the dovetails at the corners of each carcase.  This took a lot of time to do in red oak but I'm really happy with the results.

I started doevetailing these cacases back in May before I started building the fence.  When I brought all of the cedar in my shop I put these red oak panels away and stood them on end on the concrete floor.  I remember telling myself that they'd only be there on the floor for a day until I stickered them flat with a weight on them.  Well that day turned into months and when I finally got back to the panels they were seriously cupped.  Red oak is a notorious wood for moving around and I learned my lesson the hard way on this project.  Since I had already begun cutting the dovetails in the boards I didn't really have the option of ripping them down and jointing them flat again so instead I stickered them and sprayed water on the concave side.  This worked pretty well and I was able to put a strong back across them to transfer my tails to my pin board.  Once the dovetails were mated, the joinery held everything flat.

Once mistake I made was to mis-set my marking gauge too shallow when marking the depth of the pins.  I'm not sure how this happened but once the joint went together I had to hand plane about 1/16" off each of the case sides to get everything flat.  Now on an easy to work wood like cherry, hand planing a 1/16" off is easy peasy,  but on dry red oak it's a real pain.  I put alot of effort into making sure the grain direction was the same in each board before I glued up each panel but inevitable you're going to get some grain change in the middle of the board which leads to huge tear out.  I've gotten a lot better at dealing with this and managed to minimize the tear out by being vigilant at reading the grain and planeing from different directions as well as by by using a high plane angle.  I'll finish cleaning the sides up with a card scraper and sand paper before I move on to making the web frames.  That's my project for this weekend.