Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cutting Table for Quilting

My wife had been asking sometime for a specific table to cut material on for her quilting.  Cutting material requires a lot of force that you can't apply while sitting, and bending over a standard height table will have your back crying foul in no time. (I ran out of time before Christmas and had to present this to my wife with stain only, so I don't have a finished picture yet)

After some horse trading (actually it was a pig, really!) for a stack of knotty pine, I decided what better material to use on a table that would see a lot of abuse.  I used a breadboard technique on the top, added a lower shelf and a drawer for additional storage, and finished the table with a couple coats of polyurethane. 

As you can see these pics are taken in my kitchen, I don't have sufficient heat in my woodworking area during winter for gluing or finishing.  The small tarp on the floor was for glue up and flattening the top with my hand plane.


With the addition of a lathe to my arsenal of tools, I thought I'd take on some simple projects to get myself acclimated.  I was surprised how quickly I can turn these out and intend to make many more. The outside two are from burly maple that I found in our firewood pile and the center is from black walnut.  

The pen on the left is from Bloodwood, while the one on the right is from Spalted Maple, again from the firewood pile (my wife is complaining that I'm stealing all of the firewood). When purchasing the components and mandrels at Woodcraft, the clerk mentioned that I could use super glue as a finish, I would never have guessed.


I've wanted to do an Intarsia project for some time but all of the ones I've seen so far are either too difficult or too basic looking.   I spotted this in a woodworking magazine and loved it. The article included a separate template for all the pieces and it was just a matter of choosing the right wood for each of the different components. I chose Sugar Maple, Redwood, Bloodwood, and Burled Maple for the leaves, White Oak and Poplar for the pumpkins, and Cherry and Black Walnut for the acorns. 
Before I got started I copied the templates from the magazine so I could keep the originals to reproduce this project in the future. It took some time to match up the template pieces with the different pieces of wood, taking care to orient the grain to simulate things like the veins in the leaves and the pumpkin stems.  I used a spray adhesive to glue the template copies to the different pieces of wood, then cut them out using both the band saw and scroll saw.
After what seemed like days of sanding to contour all the components and fine tune the fit, I adhered everything to a piece of 1/4" plywood with yellow glue.  This project, like most, took longer than expected, but exceeded all of my expectations. This was my first experience using Bloodwood and I was very impressed with how it machines and the pleasant smell it gives off when sanding it.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black Walnut and Spalted Maple Chessboard

After hearing all the comments on how much my cutting board looked like a chess board I decided to build one, this way everyone can see the difference. 

For this project used a piece of spalted maple that I found in our firewood pile, along with some of the left over black walnut from my cutting board project. 

I started by sizing the walnut and maple into 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" sticks, then sliced them into 1/8" wafers on my crosscut sled. I glued the wafers to a piece of 1/2" MDF, clamping the edges together using cauls covered in packaging tape, and using a piece of bubble wrap and plywood to clamp them to them MDF.  

I used a book-matched set of figured black walnut for the back and added 1/4" maple for the inner border on both front and back.  I cut a 1/2" dado into the walnut outer border so it would slide over the MDF and then mitered the ends to fit. 

To hold the outer border together and to add a little more class I added some maple splines to the corners, and after a lot of sanding and a few coats of polyurethane, I am more than happy with the results. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Quilt Template Organizer

Here are a couple of template organizers I made for Karen, one made from Black Walnut, the other from Red Oak.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

End Grain Cutting Board

Today I finished my end grain cutting board that I made from Black Walnut and Maple. It took a little more than I expected (as usual), but turned out nice.

I started with some black walnut and cherry scraps that I had but didn't have enough to make it the size I wanted so I ended up purchasing a 2" chunk of maple.

After deciding on a pattern, I glued up two opposite sets of alternating walnut and maple, then cut them into 1 1/2"  rows and assembled them in order.

After final gluing, I hand planned the top and bottom until I was satisfied and then started sanding.  I started with 40 grit on the belt sander and then 80, and then switched to 80 on the palm sander and eventually 120 grit.

For the finish, I used a 50/50 cut of varnish and thinner.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hanging Quilt Rack

Several years ago my wife started making her own hand made quilts and as her inventory grew, she asked me to make her a rack to hang on the wall so she could display them. After looking at several photos on the web of different designs, we agreed on this simple 6 tier rack. I downloaded Google Sketchup, which is a free cad program that you can download from, and I started designing. I spent more time trying to familiarize myself with the software than designing the unit itself, but now I have the confidence and proficiency to use it on future projects.


Once the basic design was finished, and I had decided to use the pocket holes for the joints, I was off in search of perfect wood. It only took 1 minute in the wood store to determine what kind of wood I was to use because the Cherry was ½ off. This is my first experience working with cherry so I spent some time online reading up on what to look out for, such as splotching when finishing. The wood itself was very easy to work with and machined very well.

After all the woodworking was completed and the rack was dry assembled, I switched modes to sanding and finishing. I tried to complete most all of the sanding before final assembly which saved a lot of headache. 

For the finish I decided to go with a polyurethane base with a coat of wax, since I do not have a dust free place to do my finishing. I went with a thin layer of polyurethane for the first coat and then a lot of 320 grit sanding. I used 320 again after the second coat and wet sanded with 600 grit after the third. For the final gloss I rubbed in two coats of paste wax.


For a final touch of class, I spent the next two weeks carving a flower and ribbon to attach on the front of the arch.

I learned a lot on this project, and my wife and I are very happy with the results. About the only thing that I would do different if I had to repeat the project is to add one more step of wet sanding with 1000-1200 grit paper. I can see some areas that don't have the same sheen as others but my wife says she doesn't notice them.