Blog Post 072614

Window Seat Bookcase: The Aprons, Part 1

So, how y’all been doing? I have not written a post about my current project since July 6th, which is shocking. I have never had such a lapse in blogging since I started way back in 2009.

I once wrote that a neglected blog is such a sad thing. It takes courage to hit the “publish” button and put your words and ideas out there for everyone to see. Courage with every blog post; something good to see. Then, a woodworking blog goes silent, often right in the middle of a project. One of the guys I used to follow was making a sweet Arts and Crafts style bookcase and just when the project was getting good; he stopped blogging. For real! I hate it when that happens. There are too many silent woodworking blogs, and I don’t want mine to be one of them. :)

My main excuse is my new job which continues to be awesome. During the last few weeks, things have been hectic. I find myself putting in a lot of extra hours at work; as soon as I finish breakfast, I am reading email and planning my day. Evenings find me doing follow-up and preparation for the next day. Before and after work used to be prime woodworking time.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. I have started missing my workshop and my tools. Fortunately, I have been able to get a little woodworking accomplished.

In my last post on the window seat bookcase, I mentioned making a pattern routing jig which would enable me to cut curved edges in a more safe way. I was going to follow an article in Fine Woodworking August, 2014 issue by Tim Celeski titled “Smart Jig for Pattern Routing”. I started sourcing the hardware needed to make the jig by visiting my local Woodcraft store.

Long story short: Woodcraft did not have what I needed. I did not want to wait for delivery from an online source; plus the price of all the hardware (especially the toggle clamps) was in the neighborhood of $50.00 for a jig I would seldom use. So I decided to come up with my own jig design and save the money. Using SketchUp, I began making two pattern routing jigs/sleds…

The lower left side front apron prior to printing.
The lower left side front apron prior to printing.

The printed shape of the lower left apron is glued to MDF.
The printed shape of the lower left apron is glued to MDF.

The MDF trimmed and mounted to what I am calling a plywood sled.
The MDF trimmed and mounted to what I am calling a plywood sled.

I'll need two sleds to route  subtle curves in the lower aprons.
I’ll need two sleds to route subtle curves in the lower aprons.

With the pattern routing jigs (or sleds, not sure what to call these things) completed, I can begin to form the three lower aprons which, together, form a subtle curve across the lower edge of the bookcase (note the lower curve in this image). The aprons are highlighted in blue at the top of this post.

I cut the needed cherry close to final size and carefully matched the grain from left to right. My band saw rough-cuts the lower curve. Using strong, double face tape, I mount the cherry to the jigs and begin to smooth the rough cuts at the router table.

Template routing a smooth edge on a middle lower apron.
Template routing a smooth edge on a middle lower apron.

Front and back aprons cut to final size.
Front and back aprons cut to final size.

After some clean-up with a variety of hand planes, work with my one and only rasp along with some sanding, the aprons are ready for joinery. And speaking of joinery; that’s next. I will continue to use dowels as the main joinery. To connect the front and back aprons to their mating parts, I’ll have to drill almost 60 holes which have to be precision aligned. No small task. That will be the subject of my next post. By the way, my rasp is called a bastard file – I’m serious; just had to throw that in there.

* * *

On a separate note, I recently changed the theme here at my blog. My old theme was Portfolio by The Theme Foundry; a somewhat minimalist theme which served me well for almost a year. Portfolio is a premium theme, so the decision to ditch it after buying it was significant. But being minimalist, Portfolio was limiting in some ways; namely the menu in the header area had only enough room for four links before it started to wrap to a second row of links.

For my new theme, I wanted a free one. Earlier this year WordPress launched “Twenty Fourteen” which is loaded with options and if you like color, this theme does not disappoint (as long as you use the WordPress premium color upgrade). This theme looks great on my iPhone which was a major deciding factor for leaving my old theme. With time, the number of people viewing blogs via a smartphone will continue to grow and grow. Having a theme which is well suited for a smartphone is key.

On a desktop computer, Twenty Fourteen is basically a three column theme which means the post area is more narrow. On a mobile device the theme adjusts to one column and still looks good. Anyway, I’ll keep messing around with Twenty Fourteen and add more of its features as time permits.

Apartment Dining TableFI4d

A New Woodworking Plan in the Works

There was a time when I was really into creating woodworking plans. A couple of years ago, I remember telling the owner of Sawtooth Ideas that I had an ambitious goal of creating ten woodworking plans within the span of a year. Then I went to work; burn-out quickly set in and creating woodworking plans became no fun at all.

Apartment Dining Table1

For me, woodworking plans are a lot of work. Maybe that’s because I am a perfectionist who hates to be told that a plan has an error, or that the plan is hard to understand. Since publishing my queen size bed woodworking plan a couple of years ago, an extensive revision has replaced the original plan. Why? Because I thought the first go around was not clear enough – an example of perfectionism (is that a word?) at work.

The never completed and very complex Arts and Crafts bookcase plan (click to enlarge).
The never completed and very complex Arts and Crafts bookcase plan (click to enlarge).
Which brings me to a point: some projects are so difficult that transforming the build process into a plan is even more difficult. Example: the Arts and Crafts bookcase plan which I never completed because explaining the process lead to frequent mental exhaustion. This bookcase, which includes various types of joinery in numerous shapes was so challenging, I had even set up web pages with multiple illustrations to help explain the build process more fully. For my next plan, I selected a project which will be easy to explain. :)

The Apartment Dining Table
The upcoming woodworking plan is closely based on a dining table I built many years ago. Since this was an early woodworking project of mine, the joinery is very simple (which will make the creation of a ww plan simple).

The great thing about woodworking is you can build something to fit your space. The few times my wife and I have shopped for furniture, we always have a hard time finding furniture to fit the available space in our home. This table is small and sized right for a modest apartment or kitchen dining area.

The joinery is accomplished mostly using dowels and biscuits. The only exception to this is the table top which features pegged bread board ends.

Apartment Dining Table4

Apartment Dining Table3

Apartment Dining Table2

The legs get a chamfer at each corner – easy to do with a router, and this design treatment transforms a simple square leg into something more visually appealing.

As you can see from the images, I have a highly detailed SketchUp model already completed. The SketchUp model is the starting point for all of my woodworking plans since the cut list is derived from it as well as all the illustrations.

Making Use of SketchUp Pro
This is the first plan I am creating using SketchUp Pro. This is a real luxury for the weekend woodworker. I made contact with a nice guy at SketchUp who gave me a trial version. I can use it free of charge until some time in the Spring of 2015. So, I’ll be reviewing SketchUp Pro at the same time and will give some thoughts on the benefits of this program for the typical hobbyist woodworker.

I am excited about getting started with this project and will have an update soon.

On the left, small boards mark the beginning of forming panels.

Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 2

In grade school I was taught the four season of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The other Sunday, the pastor of our church more correctly named off the seasons in Alabama: Light Winter, Early Summer, Mid-Summer and Late Summer.

Mid-Summer is here. I was reminded of the effect of our heat and thick humidity this week while planing a board in my basement workshop. As I worked my hand plane, a bead of sweat fell from my head onto my workbench. Have you ever had sweat fall on a prized piece of lumber or your tools? I use a box fan in my shop, but I do so reluctantly since wood dust gets spread over a larger area. It’s all part of the fun of woodworking during the hot summer months.


I left off last time with the frames for the sides and dividers mostly completed. Before I can call them finished, I will need to rout a slot in each leg and then later in the project, I’ll add a nice curve to the upper rear legs.  Continue reading

Low Bookcase 033114b

Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 1

I am finally making good progress on my daughter’s window seat bookcase. I am still working longer hours at my new job which means forcing myself into the workshop in the evenings; longer periods of workshop time during the weekend.

I see this project being built this way: the sides and interior dividers first, then add the cross members which will give the bookcase its overall shape. Then add the horizontal surfaces. I will wait to begin glue-up of the various parts until later in the construction process. Also, shaping the crest rail will come later.

In my last post on this project, I had the legs cut to final size. The next task is to create the bookcase sides and interior dividers (shown in blue above). I began forming the upper and lower side rails. The legs will connect to these components and the sides will quickly begin to take shape. Continue reading

Moravian Workbench 2

New Workbench: Option Two

Earlier this year, I began contemplating the design for a new workbench. The first blog post in what will be a series on my new workbench design, explored the Nicholson workbench (see an example Nicholson here). Since then, the Nicholson bench has become more commonplace on the internet. It appears to be the next trendy workbench design. Something that will likely advance the popularity of the Nicholson workbench is the forthcoming DVD from Lost Art Press which will document the construction of a Nicholson bench using a basic tool set and common lumber. The idea is to build a quality bench based on a historic design and do it on a budget. Mike Siemsen will procure the tools and lumber, then build the bench. I can’t wait to buy the DVD.

So, I still have an interest in the Nicholson design; historic, relatively easy to build and can be created using common home center material. What’s not to like? For one, I don’t like the large aprons attached to each side of the top. And, except for a lower shelf, storage for tools and other items is minimal. Plus the Nicholson bench is a large workbench. A large bench in a small shop is a problem.  Continue reading


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