Rosewood Studio, Week 5 – Drawer making

Week 5 of my 6 week study at Rosewood Studio was focused on drawer making.  A whole week to build a drawer?  Well when it’s made of solid wood and fitted to a shaker table, it takes a little longer than simply slapping some metal drawer slides onto an mdf box like ikea does…  Unlike ikea, the drawer front won’t fall off in a year, nor will the bottom sag, and the slightest bit of water won’t turn the entire thing into a pile of wet sawdust….

First part of this week involved fitting some runners for the drawer in my shaker table.  I used walnut simply because it matched the table and I had a bunch of scraps left over, however this part isn’t visible unless you are lying on the ground underneath the table.  Next it was onto the drawer building.

The drawer was made of walnut with a piece of birds eye maple for the front.  The sides are dovetailed (half blind on the front), and the drawer bottom is a few pieces of solid walnut laminated together to form a panel.  The front of the bottom panel is glued with the back edge being left unattached  for seasonal expansion and contraction.

Birds eye maple, while beautiful to look at, can be a bit of a pain to work with.  This particular piece had some cracks and of course very curly grain which made smoothing it very trying, however after many passes with a high angle plane and a card scraper (and some light sanding), it was eventually made smooth.  I spent almost an entire day perfecting this piece of wood, only to ruin it by cutting on the wrong side of the lines for my dovetails.  Thankfully the second attempt went much quicker.

Fitting the drawer was very finicky.  Not only does it need to slide in and out smoothly, but the reveal around the drawer opening has to be identical (9000ths of an inch).  While it was a huge pain to do, I was very pleased with the results and can honestly say I have never owned a piece of furniture that had such a smooth drawer!

The drawer was finished off with a simple walnut pull turned on the lathe.  I really enjoyed the lathe work (all 5 minutes of it… after-all it was only a pull), hopefully I can afford one in the future to add to my shop.  I put several layers of shellac on the drawer front and pull, but left the sides and bottom natural.

Next week is my last at Rosewood!  It’s gone so fast, wish I could stay for another 6!

52 Create – Router Boxes

52 Create, my attempt to make one creative project per week for the entire year of 2011.  So far the bulk of the projects have been wooden, and this week certainly continues the trend.  I’ve never worked with Walnut before, but I saw this board lying against the wall at Black Forest, and I simply couldn’t resist taking it home.  I brought the 6 foot long 8 inch wide board to the cash and when the chatty owner asked what I was going to do with that great big slab, I replied with a perfectly straight face “salad tongs”…  Now honestly, I am planning on making some salad tongs at some point, and obviously there will be much wood left over for other projects, but I just couldn’t resist the joke.

Anyways, back to the project.  I made a square template out of some scrap 1/8″ plywood and used a router with a straight bit to cut the hollows of the two boxes.  I did this on the full board and then cut the outside shape afterwards as this seemed much simpler.  All sides were rounded with a 1/4″ round over bit.  The outsides were coated in shellac (roughly 2 lb. cut), and then I painted the insides bright yellow. Tops are made out of some scrap Maple I had lying around.

I was a little disappointed in the cut out.  I think it was a combination of a crappy router bit, which was also dull, and I may have tried to take too much wood off at each pass.  The inside was quite rough and I ended up having to use some filler (after lots of sanding).  I had always wanted to try the painted interior, but the only thick glossy and durable paint I could find was some no-name tremclad paint which took about 24 hrs to dry between coats.  Both boxes need 1-2 more coats of yellow, and there are a couple of places where I’d like to touch up the shellac.  A fun project, and the cutouts could really be just about any shape you could dream of.

My other 52 Create Projects.

52 Create – Helicopters

Toys toys and more toys…. This week, a fleet of helicopters.  Is it a fleet or a flock? Perhaps a squadron, who knows….  52 Create is my year long project of creating something myself each week for the entire year.  The majority of the items are out of wood, however last week we branched out into film.  Check out the projects so far.

As I said above, this week I made 3 toy helicopters.  Once you make one, you might as well make a few, and I’m hoping this one will be a big seller on my Etsy shop.  The helicopter is made of Douglas Fir (dark wood) and the rest is maple dowels except for the baltic birch plywood rotor.  They haven’t been finished yet as the weather is too cold but they will be getting a coat of polyurethane to help keep them in pristine shape.

 

I’ve also at long last put the two toy rangefinder cameras up for sale on my Etsy Shop.  I finished them in shellac which is a food safe finish that is even used on some candies (sweets), so it’s a very safe finish for kids who may be keen to take a bite out of them…

52 Create – Toy Wooden Stroller

Oh boy, I’ve had the idea for this one for months now.  When I first dreamt it up, I had no workshop/tools, but little did I know how much trouble this little beauty was going to cause me!!!  For those of you just joining in, this is week 3 in my 52 Create where I create 52 projects over 52 weeks.

 

First, let me tell you, wheels are not easy to come by.  When I was a kid, my dad and I built a soap box car.  We went to our local Canadian Tire and picked up some cheap wheels and by the end of the day I was ripping down the hill behind the Parliament buildings.  Fast forward 20 years and things are no longer so simple.  After visiting several stores, the best I could do were some snow blower wheels which were too heavy, and $10/wheel!!!!  You can buy a toy stroller in Paris for $7.  I should have bought one before we left and just ripped the wheels off…  Anyways, after some ebay searching I ended up ordering 4 scooter wheels from the states.  Total cost was $25 including shipping which still seems like a lot for what they are being used for, but in the end I’m happy how they turned out. My daughter loves strollers and at playgroup always finds one to tear around the room with.

 

The stroller is made out of Baltic Birch plywood, the dowels are from an old laundry hamper that a roomate broke/left behind.  I had my wife sew up the seat from some corduroy fabric (she also made the doll in the picture below).  In search of a safe kid friendly finish, I ended up using shellac.  It was a bit of a pain as the Lee Valley sells the flakes, but not the alcohol.  They also failed to tell me that although it recommends using Ethanol, that isn’t available in Alberta and so you need to use Methyl Hydrate instead.  If I had known this at the beginning, I might have saved myself a lot of driving around.  Shellac is of course food safe (used to coat M&M’s) and so is a great finish for kids objects. It’s also nice that it has no real smell to it, so I could apply the finish indoors.

 

52 Create – Toy Camera

Week two of 52 Create and I decided on a couple of toy cameras.  My daughter loves playing with our real camera, so why not make her a little wooden version?  I went for a rangefinder style (whom am I kidding, it’s supposed to be a Leica)  They are scaled down from a full sized camera as they’re meant for a 16 month old.

Both cameras are made from maple (and in Canada, making them an M 4-2 I guess…) and the lenses are from a dowel I had lying around the garage (not sure what type of wood).  The lines are done with a wood burning pen, the lens and dark part of the one camera are done using a propane torch.  There are no moving parts and I plan to finish them with shellac to make them kid safe (it’s -15 here right now so no finishing in the unheated garage for a while).

I’ll be putting the dark one up on Etsy, the lighter one would likely get me sued and my daughter seems to like it…