Thanksgiving cold remedies for woodworkers

Remedies for a Thanksgiving cold virus…

This week a cold virus swept through the family, hitting both of my sons and now me. Just in time for my favorite holiday of the year…Thanksgiving!

My biggest fear is not being able to taste all those wonderful flavors.

It also put me on the woodworking disabled list. It is very hard to work when you have to stop and drain the sniffer every couple of minutes. You also don’t want to get any of that stuff on your project or your tools…ewe.

I came up with a few remedies:

 1. jam some super-fine plane shavings up there and pack them in
 2. inhale a small pile of saw dust to help absorb all that moisture and really dry things out
 3. make yourself some wood plugs to fit your nostril size

…OK, don’t try these at home kids…they don’t work, and they will likely lead to other problems. I’m still working on getting one of those plane shavings out.

…now that I think about it…number three might be feasible, and reusable?

Happy Thanksgiving!

– JR

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Nightstand Part 4

Finished the top…

The next day I removed the excess glue from the joints using an ordinary paint scraper. Then I flattened the entire panel (both sides) using my low angle jack plane (LAJP). I love acronyms. The glue-up was really good, so I didn’t have much work here.

The day after that, I cut the panel down to final dimension. It came to 19″ wide by 22 1/2″ length. I’m not too concerned with final dimension as long as it looks pleasing to the eye. I’m not even sure what the dimension is in my final design…I haven’t really looked at it in a while.

I started by scribing a line along the length of the panel using my awl, which I darkened with a pencil. I had one straight edge which I referenced off of to make my marks. I back cut the scribe line at the far end to help me start my saw cut, and off I went…again using my crosscut saw to rip. It works. I called on some paste wax to come to my rescue.

I then marked a square scribe line off of that same reference edge. This time I used my marking knife and darkened it with a pencil. The crosscut made quick work of that cut…as it should. I repeated this process for the other side and then moved on to cleaning up the saw cuts. The saw cut down the length of the panel was really good…just a couple passes with the LAJP and it was done. The two end grain edges that were crosscuts needed a lot more work.

I don’t know if it was my technique, or just the saw I was using, but I had a decent amount of tear out. After I completed the first crosscut I noticed this, and even put tape down the saw cut of the second cut. I still had a decent amount of tear out. I probably should have used my crosscut back saw, but I thought the panel was going to be too large for the saw. Instead I used my panel saw, which isn’t the greatest. I bought it from one of the big box stores like 15 years ago, and it has been used for everything…even cutting limbs after our surprise snow storm before Halloween. I am in much need of purchasing some new hand tools.

I was able to remove all the tear out, but it took a lot of elbow grease and my block plane to clean up the ends. They look great and I squared them up in the process. However, it took so long, I had to hold off finishing the top until the next night.

Last night I finished the top and attached it to the nightstand. I cheated and used my router to cut the profile on all four edges of the top. This will most likely be one of the last power tools I will give up…at least until I have a nice stash of moulding planes.

I then attached the top to the nightstand using 4d finish nails. I pre-drilled and nailed along both sides and the front. The last nail I put into the front ran too close to the edge and split out the face frame. I had to remove the entire top to remove the nail. It was good to see that it was quite difficult to remove the top with just the nails holding it down. I’m confident that top won’t be coming off again unless some really wants to remove it.

When I re-attached the top I decided to only attach it at both sides. I just didn’t want to take the chance of splitting out the face frame again. Luckily that portion of the frame will be covered with moulding. It’s really solid and I have no doubt it is not going anywhere. To be sure, I added a few more nails to each side.

Here’s some shots of how it stands now.

Currently I am working on the design for the base moulding…to be continued.

– JR

Nightstand Part 3

Looks like I’m back on track now…

Last night I managed to prep and glue up the top for the nightstand. It went fairly quick as my boards were fairly flat without any twist. I basically just had to clean them up. I’m a little amazed at how flat they have stayed for 8 months in my in-laws garage.

The hardest part for the top glue-up, and any glue-up for me, is always closing the joint line between the boards. I don’t have much of a problem with jointing square…my problem is jointing flat down the length of the board. I either end up with a gap in the middle, or at both ends…usually at both ends. I seem to focus too much pressure on the beginning and ends of the board.

On this glue-up, I used my low angle jack plane and the match plane method that I picked up from Logan Cabinet Shoppe. By the way, if you haven’t, you should watch and read everything Bob puts out there.

The match plane method worked great. It took me a couple of tries to get a good glue joint, but that was only because of my issue with jointing flat. This is an improvement for me…usually I would spend multiple tries to get a good joint. I think I am starting to get the feel for it now.

Next up…planing the top flat and cutting to final size.

I included a slide show of the glue-up. You don’t see photos of glue-ups to often, but for me it’s one of the important parts of the project. If your glue joints fail, or have gaps, it ain’t pretty.

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– JR

Nightstand Part 2

It’s been a while since my last post! Not what I had intended when I started this blog, but Mother Nature has been kick’n my buttocks. Finally, after recovering from Irene and Lee, I have been able to get back into the shop. Not to mention, I have been busy with the new house chores as well.

The new shop is coming along. I purchased some nice oak cabinets from the home center during a 20% off sale. On the same wall, I put up a large shelf unit (converted from an old bookcase). The bookcase was built by my grandfather’s brother a long time ago, and I have been saving it from the dumpster for a couple of years now. So far it has been serving me very well on the wall. The next step after I finish the year plus nightstand project (to my credit, I was without a shop for 8 months), is to build my long overdue workbench.

Ok, onto the nightstand…

It has been in the finished carcase stage for a long time. This past week I was able to finish the face frame. I am starting to convert to a hand tool only maniac, so I completed this entire task with hand tools.

The hardest part was ripping the thin strips (1 1/2″) with my crosscut saw. Yeah, that’s right, crosscut. I don’t own a rip saw other than my table saw, and I wasn’t going to cave in and power it up. It took a while, and the cuts were a little rough, but they cleaned up perfectly with my low angle jack and block planes. My next purchase will definitely be a rip saw…just need to sell something to scrape up the cash.

For the crosscutting, I built a nice bench hook with some scraps…its part butternut and part poplar. It worked great and I surprised myself how well I could saw. Almost perfectly square…beginers luck? Maybe, we’ll see.

After prepping all the stock, I planed the two sides and top face frame pieces to the same thickness. The bottom face frame piece stands a little proud. I did this purposely, as it gives a nice reveal on the bottom almost as if the rest of the face frame is supported by it.

The bottom face frame was the first I attached to the carcase. I just used some nails, drilling first, with no glue. Then I attached to two side face frame pieces in the same way, by showing it to the carcase and marking it with my knife. Naturally, last to go in was the top piece. Then I used my block plane to flush up the frame to the carcase sides.

Did the process take longer than it would have with power tools? Not sure, I was having too much fun working with out power…there’s just something about it. When I tell people I am going to give up the power, they freak out…it’s kind of funny. It is hard to explain why I am drawn to unplugged woodoworking…perhaps it’s the connection to the tradition of woodworking, or the reduction in noise & dust, or the space it saves in my new shop.

I think it might be all of those…well, yeah it is. I think the greatest thing pushing me down this course is: I feel like I have been cheating using machines to do the work that I could easily do with hand tools. I am not sure why. I just know, that now I am using hand tools, I am getting so much more satisfaction out of woodworking.

-JR