Woodworking

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A bit of history...

Some time in the fall of 2000, I got it into my head that I should take up woodworking.  You see, there were all these old issues of Fine Woodworking around the house, and I figured I was enjoying reading them so much, I might enjoy actually working in wood.  I probably wouldn't have done anything about it if it hadn't been for a few additional motivating factors...  One was seeing a picture of one of Krenov's cabinets -- I was utterly entranced.  The other was reading about the variety of handtools available and their use -- how could I possibly resist such cool toys!

So, I bought a not-very-good bench (I'll build a better one later, I suppose), a few Japanese saws and chisels, a few marking tools, a few planes, and a lot of poplar, and started my first project.  Actually, my ex bought what has become one of my favorite planes for some very low price somewhere -- it's just a standard Bailey-pattern #5, but the fact that I spent hours flattening the sole, removing rust, etc. and finally got it tuned to the point where I can get it to perform very well indeed, well, all that  makes it seem special to me, somehow.

Originally, my first project was going to be a big, relatively ugly cabinet designed to sit in the basement and store wine.  Over the course of several months, I learned a lot about flattening and jointing wood by hand, but the cabinet was still just a sketch.  More to the point, after realizing that the temperature of the basement during summer hit well over 70F, and got down to around 40F in the winter, I decided that the basement was not an adequate place to store wine afterall, and finally broke down and got a Eurocave.

The good news was that, freed from a project that was too ambitious and not particularly exciting, I was able to start in on a cabinet that I wanted to build, rather than a useful one.

Had I read Krenov's classic trilogy (well, I suppose that there are four books now, but at the time the fourth wasn't out yet...) before starting, the results would likely have been very different.  Indeed, I might have been too scared to start, and I certainly would have been too embarrassed to finish...  Good thing I held off! (Well, maybe it was a good thing -- given how the cabinet came out, you may think that I would have been better off not starting, or at least giving up, but hey, as I said, I enjoyed it!)

In any event, Peter Korn's Working with Wood in hand, and my not-very-good (but definitely showing signs of improvement) practice dovetails staring me in the face, I embarked on building the carcass.  The first set(s) of dovetails I did, which were supposed to be for the top of the cabinet, were really really terrible.  I had gotten overly ambitious and decided that in a 12" length, about 12 pins was about right, and that the narrowest should be around 1/16" or so.  This was, on reflection, really stupid.  For what was to the bottom, I cut fewer pins and cut them much larger, and it looked a whole lot better.  So much better, in fact, that I cut the tails off the side panels and started over with a new top piece.  The failed original piece was shorn of all but two pins on each side, and became the shelf.

The door was a problem from the word go.  I'm not very good at mortise and tennon joinery, frankly (though I'm getting better - well sort of), and so the joints weren't as tight as I might have wished.  Oddly enough, it actually ended up square -- which would have been a good thing, but the cabinet wasn't.  Oh well.  The floating panel was was going to be bookmatched butternut; unfortunately, in gluing up the frame, the back side ended up better fit...  Unfortunately, the back side is neither bookmatched nor is the grain well matched nor, is it well color matched.  Now, if I'd read Krenov's books first, I would have (a) done the door first and (b) given up almost immediately.  But I hadn't, so instead I just decided to live with it.  The drawer, on the other hand, came out better than I had any right to expect...

The stand was a bit of a disappointment...  I actually like the way it looks with the cabinet, but I don't like the fact that the back legs are not even vaguely in the same plane with the front legs...  But it is square at the top, and I thought it would be square all through.  Just goes to show, I suppose.  Oh, and it'd be nice if all the legs were the same length, but that'd be asking a little much, I think.


 

So, here is a picture of the 'finished' cabinet and it's stand...

 

The big question , of course, is 'what to do with the damn thing?'  It's an odd size, and fairly ugly, but hell, it's my first project! how can I get rid of it?  Or even not display it?  Oh well.  It makes an OK liquor cabinet, I suppose (click here to see it in use).  As I said, it's my first project, so...

Click here for more pictures of and information about this cabinet...


 

My second 'serious' project was finished in November of 2001...  It was a birthday gift for my father, who claims to love it.  He no doubt sees it through a parent's eyes, though... Click here for more information...


 

My third project was finished in February of 2002...  It was a wedding and housewarming gift for two close friends.  Click here for more information...

This bookcase was designed for our old house, but fits quite nicely into our new one.  It is the fourth ‘major’ project I’ve completed, and you can see more pictures and find out a little more about it by clicking here.



This bookcase was designed for our old house, but fits quite nicely into our new one.  It is the fourth ‘major’ project I’ve completed, and you can see more pictures and find out a little more about it by clicking here.

 

Picture of cabinet
Project # 5: A small tea-cabinet net.  More pics  here to view some pictures of the work in progress, or you can wait until I'm done (anticipated completion date: sometime in Fall 2004, if all goes well).

Project #6

Click here for pictures of my 'workshop' and some of my tools...