Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bottle Cutting

I gave some hints to my wife that I wanted a bottle cutter for Christmas... and so there was one under the tree this year! We normally recycle all of glass bottles and jars in the weekly recycling done by our refuse company. I've always thought it would be great if something useful could be done with the empties, besides the obvious winemaking and refilling! So with this bottle cutter I figured I could make some glasses or maybe a vase with the taller bottles. Here's what the bottle cutter looks like:

It's really nothing fancy. Just a set of rollers and a brace which holds the base of the wine bottle a set distance from the cutting wheel (lower right hand corner of unit).

The last time I remember these things being popular was back in the early seventies, when ecology and recycling was big. Yeah, they teach this stuff to kids today, but have you ever seen what a teenager throws away? Uhuh, EVERYTHING (laziness seeks the easiest way to do things. Note: this logic does not apply to cell phone use; in that case, talking is more efficient, therefore the lazy approach, than texting. But for some reason, texting seems to be the lazy way to communicate between teenagers).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Stained Glass Lanterns

I made a few of the Christmas-themed lanterns for presents this year, and I also made my music-major daughter a musically-themed lantern:

The college she attends has purple and gold as the school colors, so that's why the colors are like they are for this project. She also likes stars, so that's why they are there... nothing musical about stars, as far as I know:

A friend suggested I use some sort of white light "diffuser" behind the glass, to even the amount of light flow. So I bought this paper designed for this purpose from a lamp store. Works great!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stained Glass Lantern Project

I took a stained glass class at a local school district's community education programs. It was well worth the inexpensive tuition to get instruction from someone who has done stained glass for 30 years!

My first project was a suncatcher, it came out OK:

Next I got the idea to make a lantern, with a Christmas theme. Here are the three panels, having just cut the glass:

Here's what the lantern looked like, once the three panels were soldered separately, then soldered together in a triangular form:

These pictures were taken in the living room, with the room lights off. I like the way it looks:

My personal favorite is the side with the candle on it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Making 12 More Legs!

I started making the 12 legs for the 3 end tables. These are basically the same as the ones I made for the coffee table, but they are a little longer in overall length. Part of the additional length is due to the fact that the post of the leg is 5" (instead of 3" on the coffee table legs) to accommodate a drawer.

Here is a picture of the leg blanks, milled to 3" by 3", but not yet cut to length:

Once they were all cut to length, I used a cardboard template of the leg, and transferred it to two adjacent sides of a leg blank. If there is a knot or deviation you want to avoid, many times that can be accomplished by laying out the template correctly. Next step is to cut the mortises into two sides:

A mortise chisel is used to cut a 1/4" square hole. The first cut is made, then the leg is advanced about 3/16", then another cut is made, and so on til the mortise is finished. Here's a cleared picture, with the wood chips brushed away:

What do you do with 12 roughed out legs? Get out the rasp, get out the files, the hard work begins now!

A closeup of the roughed out legs:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Starting On the End Tables

Well between yesterday and today, I bought the walnut for the end table legs. I wanted 3" thick walnut, but my supplier only had 4" thick material. It's not like the wood will be wasted, but the cost is $2/bd-ft more expensive for 4" vs. 3" material. Here are some pics of those two boards I bought:

This first board is really nice, 78" long, 10" wide, and 4" thick".

The second board is a little smaller. I need to get a total of 12 legs from the two of them, which will leave some extra behind.

Next step, cut leg blanks from the boards and make sure they are all the same dimensions before bandsawing into legs.

Oh I forgot, I have a new hobby that will complement my cabinet work:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Table Finished and Delivered!

Well this past weekend we carefully wrapped the table in moving blankets and made the trip to Stamford CT. The table traveled well, and we set it up in Gary Jr's apartment.

I must say, it looks really nice there. In fact, my wife liked it so much, she wanted to keep it. Same for my daughter Jennifer!

I made a set of matching walnut coasters, but we neglected to take pictures of them.

After getting the coffee table in place, we started making plans for the matching end tables. Yes, two matching end tables, and a table that will go between the two couches.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting the finish on the table

I started putting finish on the table Sunday. I am using Minwax wipe-on polyurethane wood finish. What's really nice about it is that there are no brush marks, the finish levels itself quite nicely. And it dries fast, you can re-coat within 3-4 hours. I've worked the finish with 400 grit sandpaper between coats, and have since moved on to 600 grit. Results in a very smooth surface. Probably one more coat of finish, with a 1200 grit sanding before. Then I can wrap it up and deliver to the customer in CT!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Table Fully Assembed

Yesterday I glued the four legs together with the stretchers. Today, I glued the top to the leg assembly.

Once the leg assembly was released from the clamps, I drilled 1/4" holes in the legs. The hole was deep enough to pierce the tenon. I then inserted a short piece of 1/4" dowel to pin the stretcher into the leg. No way this table will come apart!

Next step is to sand the entire table with 220 grit paper, then start applying the Watco dark walnut danish oil.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Table Frame Comes Together

I've been working on the legs alot, they required much hand sanding and filing. First I filed and rasped the legs to their final form, then starting with 60 grit sandpaper, sanded the legs until I got to 150 grit. The final sanding with 220 ans 440 paper will happen once the table is fully assembled. After getting the legs done, I then went about cutting the stretchers -- those horizontal pieces used to connect the legs and provide support and attachment for the table top.

I clamped the pieces together, just to get a sense of how tight the joints were, and whether the table is fairly square and level. To my surprise, it was both. The stretchers have tenons on each end, and from the previous images you can see the legs have mortises in them. I'll unclamp everything, apply glue to the joints and re-clamp it overnight.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cabriole Leg Making

Well I started with 3" x 3" x 19" pieces of black walnut for making the table legs. The first step is to cut the mortises into them, while they are still square. If I were to cut the curved part of the leg first, then it would be very difficult to hold the leg square to the mortise chisel later. In this photo you can see the pattern I traced onto the two adjacent sides:

Even though I really only need four legs for the table, I cut out enough blanks for six legs:

Here is how the mortises are cut into the leg: with a mortise chisel. A mortise chisel is a chisel made from a square piece of steel tubing. Inside the tube is a drill bit. So as you push the chisel into the wood, the drill removes the majority of the wood, while the chisel insures that the sides of the hole are square:

Here is what the completed mortise looks like:

There needs to be a mortise on two adjacent edges of the legs, to accept the tenons that will be cut into the stretchers that connect the legs:

The next step is to cut the top of the legs to size. To do this, a table saw tenoning jig is used. The jig holds the leg firmly in place, and more importantly keeps your hands away from the blade. In this operation, the blade is raised to a level of 3", which can be dangerous:

Looking from the back of the saw, you can see how the blade will first come into contact with the leg:

Still looking from the back of the saw, after the cut:

Two total cuts are made to set the leg of the upper portion of the leg:

Next, the leg is put on the table saw sled and the unwanted pieces fall away:

Here is what the leg looks like at the end of this operation:

Now the curved cuts are made on the bandsaw. The thing with cabriole legs is that as you cut one curved piece, you need to tape it back onto the blank. There are two reasons for this: first, you want to keep the piece square and as you cut the curves, the piece becomes unsquare. Second, if you don't tape the cut off pieces back on, you lose the lines you are supposed to follow!

After all the curves are cut, the blanks look like this:

I'll "unwrap" each layer of wood and expose the leg:

Almost there...


When the cutting's all done, here's your leg!

In the next post, I will describe how you take this rough leg and get it smoothed out!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Table Re-design

Well the idea of making a table based on an elliptical frame proved to be more a project than my current tools will support. So after talking with Gary Jr., we decided to go with a rectangular table top for the coffee table. We also decided that the first set of legs would not look right with the rectangular top. The original design called for the legs to be at the north, south, east and west sides of the ellipse. The new table design calls for the legs to be placed one in each corner. So I used the same leg design template, but made the cuts in two dimensions on the bandsaw. I'll post some more text and pictures to describe the process. But for now, here are some pictures of the prototype leg I made this evening: