Tag Archives: woodworking

At It Again

Most Recent DIY Nightstand Post (9/27/15): Nightstand – Final Class

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the last time I worked on my nightstand was probably in early November, and the class ended in late September. It’s been nearly complete for a few months now, and I lost the drive to finish it! Over the holidays, I found renewed vigor (thank you New Year’s Resolutions!) and spent a few hours on it on Saturday and Sunday. Plus, my boyfriend and I randomly stopped by an Amish furniture store on Saturday, and the wooden furniture was absolutely exquisite. The best part for me besides fantasizing about one day making masterpieces was that I could find imperfections in even professional-grade work! $2000 tables had minor gaps between the wooden boards, and they were still beautiful and well-crafted. I’ve been told by multiple woodworkers that majority of woodworking is figuring out how to adapt when cuts or joins or designs go unexpectedly throughout a project. It combines creativity, engineering, and experience, and I love that I’m entering into a world where imperfections can be the best parts of of a product. I’m going to need a few more projects before my final product only has minor imperfections in it, but my nightstand tells my story. It will be proudly displayed and used in my new home.

It’s amazing the satisfaction I receive after working on my nightstand, especially now in the finishing stages. It actually doesn’t look too different from the last picture I posted because the updates I’ve made have been minor. Yet, I know the amount of work that goes into even making the smallest tweak.

In about five to six hours of total work, I finished glueing on the front pieces and sanding the top of the nightstand. I took before and after photos of the nightstand top, and I think it’s pretty remarkable the difference sanding makes! I used a belt sander to get the roughness out of the wood and smooth over the separate boards (if you can recall, we cut a large piece of wood and reformed pieces with glue and biscuit joining to create the sides and top).

BELT SANDER
belt sander
Belt sander after about an hour and a half of use. We’ll need to replace the belt soon!
BEFORE
The top of my nightstand before sanding. You can clearly see the individual boards, lots of dried glue, and even some residual paper that was accidentally glued on.
The top of my nightstand before sanding. You can clearly see the individual boards, lots of dried glue, and even some residual paper that was accidentally glued on.
AFTER
belt sander
Believe it or not, this is the same top! The wooden boards blend much more nicely together, and you cannot really see any residual glue. If you look closely enough, you can see some scarring from the belt sander. This occurred if I sanded over one spot too much compared to another or was holding the belt sander unevenly.
I thought I'd add one more after photo of me! Sanding is a messy task! Definitely make sure you wear goggles and a ventilation mask. The breathing was fine for me, but I got the occasional sawdust in my eye.
I thought I’d add one more after photo of me! Sanding is a messy task! Definitely make sure you wear goggles and a ventilation mask. The breathing was fine for me, but I got the occasional sawdust in my eye.

What an improvement! I’ll go over the entire nightstand again with a random orbit sander – my very first woodworking tool purchase!  This will help with the final smoothing over and hopefully hide any of the imperfections in the wood occurring naturally of caused by me.

I wanted to treat you as well to my boyfriend’s nearly finished nightstand. He’s a bit farther than I am, and it looks GREAT! He needs to add in some sliders for the drawer and then polyurethane for the coat. I’m going to use the same hardware for the drawer knob and style for the edges. He made his nightstand with ashy maple, and I used mahogany. Despite using different kinds of wood, I think this will match well if we place them in the same room or use them as end tables on the same couch.

This is my boyfriend's nightstand, made of ashy maple. It looks wonderful!! He did a really nice job. He's got just a few more steps to go before it's ready for use.
This is my boyfriend’s nightstand, made of ashy maple. It looks wonderful!! He did a really nice job. He’s got just a few more steps to go before it’s ready for use.

Where do you think we should use the nightstands once they’re complete?

Nightstand Week 3

Finally, I’m starting to get an idea of how my nightstand will look! In last week’s class, I cut the sides to correct measurements and sanded them. In this week’s class, I added a design to the sides and etched placeholders for the drawers. On a side note, my instructor’s name is Merlin which means his parents purposely named him after a magician, therefore setting him up to have an unusual and uncommon expertise. 🙂

I’ll start with describing last week’s class. This occurred on the night of my first day of work, so I was too preoccupied to actually write about it real-time! I did a lot of sanding last week to the point that when I took my goggles off, you could see the goggle outline in sawdust around my face. I was sort of able to capture the difference between pre-sanding, preliminary sanding, and final sanding.

Oh, how did this end up here? Somebody surprised me with First Day of Work flowers during woodworking class. :)
Somebody surprised me with First Day of Work flowers during woodworking class…  🙂

The board below is before I began sanding. You can see pencil lines on the board that were a guide for sanding; essentially, I needed to sand those out. You don’t want to oversand and cause the board to shrink in width, but you also want to have a nice, even surface. I think my boyfriend and I erred on the side of over-sanding because it felt smooth like a baby’s butt. 🙂

Merlin’s arm – he’s showing me the ropes.

For the initial sanding, we used a belt sander. This took away the unevenness between the glued boards and was not meant to get the boards perfectly smooth.

After using the belt sander. You can see a noticeable difference, and we’re not finished yet!

Then, I used a random orbiter sander. This has a rotating circular head that is used to polish off the wood and make it very smooth. This was fun to use! I went in a lawn mower serpentine fashion around the boards.

After Random Orbiter – unfortunately, this is a picture of the other board, but hopefully you can still imagine how much smoother the wood became.

In this week’s class, we etched out the slots for the drawers and added a half moon curve design for decoration. I used two new tools, a router and a dado saw.

A close up of the router resting upside down. It looks like it spins a drill top. Flip it around to cut through wood!
A close up of the router resting upside down. It looks like it spins a drill top. Flip it around to cut through wood!

The router is a peculiar tool that has spins a sharp point very, very quickly. I think I heard Merlin say something like 20,000 rpm, but that sounds a little high. However, it illustrates the point – the router is a beast. I found the tool to be quite gentle to use and control. Merlin created a special template for us that we guided the router around to carve out the design. To make the smoothest cuts, we actually carved through the wood in several layers around the template. I think the 3/4 inch wood is too thick to attempt sawing in one motion.

image
I have the board clamped to the table, so it will not move. The template is also secured to the board with clamps.
Finished. I cut that!
Finished. I cut that!

In order to make a special joint called a rabbet (not to be confused with rabbit as I thought during class!), Merlin replaced the table saw blade with a dado blade. From what I can gather, the dado has two blades attached to each other allowing for wider cuts. The rabbet joint will be used to attach the top of the nightstand to the sides. We also made additional cuts where we will interlace the backing, middle drawer, and bottom to the sides.

The sides after using the dado blade
The sides after using the dado blade
Additional view
Additional view. The bottom of the picture here is actually going to be the top of the nightstand. This is where the rabbet joint will hold in place the top of the board to the sides.

Three weeks down and three weeks to go! I’m still very much enjoying this activity. I’ve decided I will keep this nightstand as my first woodworking project. Merlin keeps saying my great-grandkids will be fighting over it one day! 😉 They better!

Do you have any homemade family heirlooms, or have you created anything you hope to become an heirloom?