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Easy to use Jig for Lightweight Frames

Figure 1:  Self-centering doweling jig for lightweight frames/picture frames

I’ve come across a nice, inexpensive tool for putting dowel joints into lightweight frames like picture frames and such.  It is self centering, and clamps the workpiece to-be-doweled between two pieces of metal to allow for easy drilling of the holes.  By aligning the edge of the tool onto the edge of each workpiece to be mated, the position of the mating holes is automatically aligned correctly, or close to that.  The jig I bought was very inexpensive (around $20) – and seems pretty durable.

I’m sure this tool is old hat to woodworking experts and long-time cabinet makers, but I’m only discovering tools as I have a need to use them.  I discover that I have a problem (all acts of woodworking are problems for me, automatically, because I’m so new to the game), and then I go looking for an easy way to solve the problem and finish the project.  This month, it was the doweling that was the challenge.

In the photo, it can be seen that one of the holes will not accept the entire length of dowel.  The hole for the end dowel was punched completely through the workpiece, and the dowel protruded a little bit when fully seated.  It had to be sanded flush to the piece before finishing.  The three dowels are 3/8 x 2.5 inches, which makes for a pretty good picture frame IMO.

The pre-bought dowels are fluted, which gives room for the glue, and fit very tightly into the jig-drilled holes.  Pretty much it requires a few taps from the mallet to drive them home.  After even a few minutes, they are a real chore to get back out (yes, I had a reason to do that, unfortunately).  So, one needs to have one’s ducks in a row with glue-ups.  That’s not something I always get done with the steps in the right order.

Any experts out there who have a better idea for frames can chime in here.   I have used checked lap joints for frames (seem pretty strong), as well as biscuit joints (seem pretty weak).

The intermediate joint is the mortise and tenon, I suppose, but I take forever to do them on the router, and the dado blade is scary for that usage.  So, I guess I’ll be looking for a nice inexpensive tool for making the tenons next month.


The Hinge Trick

Figure 1 : The Hinge Trick

As a novice wood ruiner, I thought I was clever when I discovered a way to place hinges for hidden hinge (and therefore hidden mounting hole) hinges.  The problem is that the holes you’re wanting to drill are under the door you’re trying to attach.  Alignment is therefore an issue.  Figure 1 shows me solution to the conundrum.  I flip the hinge wing out (the one that would normally be under the door) and onto the cabinet frame, and then mark the holes (shown in red).  I use clamps to securely and temporarily hold the door in place while I do this.

Then, I find an extra hinge, and flay it out on the cabinet frame as shown in part “B” in figure 1.  I align the red holes with the marks made in step “A” – and then make new marks in green (the ones that will be under the door, and inaccessible).  After drilling the green holes, all is fine and the door is in perfect position.  It helps to have more than one door opening in a set of cabinets to do this (so I can reach around with the clamps).

Here’s some of my door mounts, where I used this idea:

Figures 2,3 : A door hinge done with the “hinge trick”.

The doors shown in figures 2,3 are closed in the middle, without any center frame.  Such doors have to be within about 1/32 or 1/16 inch all along the middle seam where the doors come together when they close.  This is very tricky without something like the “hinge trick”.  Since I’m only a novice wood ruiner, this is not advice.  Works for me tho …

Painting the Cabinet Doors

Figure 1 :  Thinning the paint

So, I didn’t really know much about finishing cabinet doors with paint when I started this project. Sand it once, slap on a coat, and call it done – right? Yeah – I think I’ve upgraded my skills somewhat with the first run of four doors that I’m finishing for the lower cabinets.

I figured out what is the most important tool to have in your arsenal in order to get a good finish on painted wood.  Is it the sand paper?  Is it the router bit or the saw …

Read more about Painting the Doors …

Novice Wood-Ruiner Studies the Door Build

Figure 1:  A Door in the clamps (Big iron Besse ones!)

So … the doors are going together – but I’m doing the bottom ones first (using the birch panel inserts instead of the glass inserts that will go into the top cabinet panels).  Before I could get to the glue-up shown in figure 1, I ran the frame parts over the table saw (to cut them to length and to put the panel dado grooves into the edges of them), and then I ran the frame parts over the router (to put the biscuit mortises (grooves) into the ends of them.  I had previously used the router to put an ogee style inner profile on all of the frame parts.

Read More about the door building …

Glass Case Project – Magic Router Bits

Figure 1:  Roman Ogee router bit makes a good profile on the door frame

So, for a novice wood ruiner, my books tell me I’ve made some correct guesses about how to build doors.  The selection of the Roman Ogee router bit to make my own door frame stock was a good idea.  It halves the cost of the frames, and I can say it’s unique to the project (because the depth-of-cut personalizes the profile a little bit (many slightly different profiles possible).

Read more of Magic and the Glass Case Project …

The Glass-case Wall Project

Figure 1: The big iron Besse clamps are indispensable it seems to me

This page starts the next project, which is the build-out of the north dining room wall with glass-case (and other) cabinetry.  The purpose of the cases is to display a significant collection of antique Tiffin glass (circa 1870 – 1925).  It’s quite beautiful, so needs cabinetry to match.  This may be a tall order for a novice woodruiner, but I’m gonna give it a fly.

Note in figure 1 the huge Besse clamps.  One thing I did pick up from the local woodworker’s gathering spot – and that’s the importance of the clamps.  My first shell glue-up has proven that to me.

Read More about the glass case wall project …

The Closet Project

Figure 1:  The original closet was pretty boring and dark.

So, one of the first projects I used as a test vehicle for the newly built homemade router was the “closet project.”  You can see that the original closet was pretty plain and dark.  The carpet had seen better days, and was a dust magnet.  So, we designed into the new closet a new look with the new wood floor and the shelves and the hi/lo clothes rods (to hang more clothes).  The result is in figure 2:

Figure 2 : The “after” photo for the closet project.  Much less boring.

The middle picture seems caddywumpus, but that is mostly an optical illusion.  The new homemade router was used mostly to smooth some of the trim pieces, which had been rough-cut with a circular hand saw.  I had not yet received the Delta table saw, so the hand saw put some woodworking bloopers into a few places (not going to say what they are LOL).

Read more about the closet project …

My Little Table Saw

Step 1:  Speedread woodworking book to become instant woodwork guru.

The term small means different things to different people.  But, in this case, it means I’m saying something with – as they say – my tongue in my cheek.   Recently, I decided that the skill saw in my possession (as nice as it is) – was not up to the approaching cabinet project that I find on the honey-do list.

I looked at saws, and found that most were of the 1 inch tube fold-up frame variety.  This seemed to be a little less “solid” than what I told myself would be the ideal firmness for a table saw.  So, I went a little overboard in the opposite way of thinking – and purchased a contractor saw made by Delta Power Equipment company.  Cost-wise, it was only a little more than the fold-up jobs, which was surprising.

Step 2: Morning of delivery – early coffee – watching frosted window.

The particular Delta model I purchased was quite heavy, so I let the truck deliver it to my temporary assembly site / work area.

Step 3:  Clean a spot for the saw to land on.

So, I cleaned a spot on the floor, and waited for the magic hour.  It was an early afternoon delivery, which I would find to be fortuitous.

Step 4:  Jump for excitement after the delivery is made.  Whew -hoo!

Every retirement-aged boy needs to do this when the new table saw arrives.  It’s normal.

Step 5:  Gulp when I notice weight printed on the side of the box.

I did say it was heavy.  But, fortunately, it was packed very well, and all the pieces and parts were securely tucked inside of the box.  I pulled some small parts out of the box, and then removed the topside styrofoam packing piece.

Step 6: Start the unpacking

Below the topside packing foam I found an assortment of things, including the large tubular frame in two sections, the deck top and motor housing, the T-Square, the side rails, handles, wheels, blade guard parts and pieces, and other things.  The tubular steel of the base frame is all of two and a half inches wide, if not more.

Step 7: Read the assembly instructions

I found a “quick assembly” guide in the box.  Those are always a treat to find, and my main go-to assembly procedure.  I guess quick is a relative term.   Between reading the guide, adjusting my video camera for the unboxing video, and being generally non-speedy about the whole affair, i managed to steal about five hours from old man time in order to have the finished result, shown in Step 8.

Probably, I could do the assembly in two or three hours the next time, but I’m not thinking that’ll ever be necessary.  The spin-crank on the blade height and tilt controls works nice and smoothly:

Step 8:  Finished saw is awesome!

I was impressed by the solid feel of the rubber wheels, and the saw moves around quite well on them.  Of course there is a lock-down that stabilizes the table for actual usage.  Everything lined up well, there were no bent pieces, and the supplied setup feeler gauges said my installation was up-to-snuff.

The table has a nice solid feel to it, and trying the shake it doesn’t faze it much.  I think this was the best choice for me, but time will tell.  Day two will have the first cuts, so stay tuned !

The Eighty Five dollar Router Table

Figure 1The author’s $85 router table (not quite finished in photo).

So, router tables are pretty pricey, if you’re looking for a good one.  They’re upwards of $500-600 for a good one that is of the steel frame and legs variety.  So, I spent a few spare weekends digging around in places like Habitat for Humanity’s Restore outlets and other such places like that.  I found a discarded motor stand for $15.  These are often used to hold grinding wheel motors.

Read More …

The Journey Begins

Figure 1:  A cup for potpourri

Another Blog?   Nearly all of my wordpress sites are hobby sites.  At one time I had everything rolled into one cup of potpourri, which turned out to be a mistake for several reasons.  It was too big, naturally, and tended to shorten viewer’s interest by being mostly not about what they’d come to see.  So, now I have a bunch of WP sites, none are very big, but each has what its blog title says it should have.  It seems to be the prudent approach to me.

Still, it’s a bit easy to get lost amongst the blogs.  I have a “Recent Posts” connection to every other blog in the sidebars of all the blogs, so visitors can get back to the starting point if necessary.  Most of them have a home button near the top of the page.  I’ve tried to pick consistent themes throughout, but there are variances.  Welcome!

Woodworking is one of many things I’ve dabbled with in the past.  This is a restart of that old hobby, making me a reborn novice.  Thus, I’ve appropriately warned the visitor in the header graphic!

To be continued …