Tool of the week

Probably should have called this post “Tool of last week” since I’m a couple of days late…  Anyways, had a hard time deciding on what tool for this week.  I absolutely loved working on the lathe.  I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, but I seemed to figure things out and the progress is so much faster than building say a cabinet!  In the end I chose the vacuum bag.  This is the setup I used to make my curved panel door (made from wiggle board and mahogany veneer).  It’s pretty simple, basically a vacuum cleaner attached to a bag.  As the air is sucked out of the bag it exerts even pressure everywhere, making it very easy to clamp a piece of veneer to a curved surface.  The door was left in the bag for about 3 hours while the glue (regular carpenters glue) cured.  The possibilities with this setup are just about endless, I’d love to buy one but they cost about $1000 for the vacuum and large bag.  Lee Valley sells a small manual version made for skateboards, it’s about a tenth of the cost, so it might be worth some experimenting.


Mechanics Desk

I was in need of a new desk, one that not only was nice looking, but that also could store my flat bed scanner I use for scanning film.  My house is very dusty and so an enclosed cabinet seemed like a great idea!  After many different designs over the last few years, I was in the local hardware store when I saw 5 panel doors (wood) on sale for $35!  I came back the next day and picked one up, not sure exactly what I would do with it, but confident that I at least had gotten a great deal…


So the desk formed in my mind over the next couple of days.  I cut the door so that the top of the desk would be comprised of 3 panels. I was happy to find out it was indeed solid, and not a hollow-core door.  The top was then painted with gloss black paint (3 coats). Next I bought some plexi-glass, and cut it to fit exactly in the panels.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find plastic thick enough to be flush with the desk top, so I used a bunch of foreign coins I had lying around the house as spacers.  Under each piece of plexi glass I put some polaroids from our beloved SX-70.

I was having trouble deciding on a cabinet. I had a few designs when I stumbled upon a mechanics tool chest that was on sale, and was slightly dented (woohoo 10% extra off!).  I drilled a hole in the bottom for the scanner wires, and the top drawers hold random computer bits.  The whole unit was about 1cm lower than my speaker, so with a little piece of rubber I shimmed the desktop to be the same height on both sides.  The desk sits a bit high for my liking, but the convenience of using a speaker and a tool chest as legs can’t be beat!


Overall I’m very happy with this project. When I am done scanning, I simply close the door and presto, no dust!  At some point I may put legs on the desk and simply roll the scanner cabinet out when needed, but for now it adds some nice colour to my living room.  The whole thing cost about $145 ($35 door, $75 mechanics chest, $35 plexi-glass – although I have lots of this left).