Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the credenza part 7 - tha doors

things are really starting to come together. the credenza is taking shape, and our efforts are starting to visually pay off.

the next step is to make and mount the doors. we do this before hanging the shelves since the hinge of the door may interfere with the shelves at mounting points, so with the doors hung first the shelves will be safely installed minimizing chances for screw ups.

first we need to add a piece of solid mulberry for the doors to be mounted to. attaching the doors to the leg was an option, but proved to not look or function as we desired. notice  the inside of the right leg in this photo below.

and now notice the piece of thin mulberry that will be mounted to the inside of the front leg. the piece is not sitting in its final resting place on this pic.

here the piece is where it will be forever, do you see it?

we drilled some holes, mounted it, and plugged it up. the doors are mounted on this piece so we made sure it was securely fastened to the leg. some glue and three screws did the job for each piece.

a close up of some freshly cut mulberry plugs. that dark spot is a burn mark from the table saw due to an earlier cut, don't worry that'll be screw facing.

plugged, waiting for the glue to dry then i'll chisel off the protruding plug.

we used solid pieces of mulberry and solid pieces of walnut to edge band the ply pieces for our doors. we got a little fancy here, using mulberry for the edges of the doors that would be adjacent to mulberry pieces of the front face frame, and the walnut for the edges of the doors that would be touching each other. we used a piece of walnut ripped (aka cut in half) so that when the doors are closed you can tell that the two pieces used to be one. this technique is called bookmatching, and is very popular in fine furniture.

here are all the mulberry, walnut, and ply pieces that will make up the doors.

the long pieces are wider, giving the doors a strong look. the edge bands along with the ply will also create a very strong and rigid door.

here's a brief preview of how the doors will look. against the credenza.

the solid piece of walnut we used has a bit of sapwood at the top, which will make the fact that we used one piece for the doors very easy to spot.

i used a biscuit cutter to cut 1.5" deep half moon shaped grooves in the ply and the edge bands. then before glue time, put a thin football shaped piece of wood called a biscuit in the slots of the ply and corresponding edge bands.  this helps line up the edge band and the ply so that when you glue them together they are in line with each other. it also gives a stronger bond. i put two biscuits on the short edge bands and three on the long ones, so twenty in total for both doors.

and we glued them up.

when gluing it's important to have a good squeezeout. that is when the glue squeezes out of the surfaces that are being glued together. this way you know for sure that there is glue on the entire surface that is being glued. i hate cleaning the squeezeout. but cleaning it is a very important job, if not done timely the glue will set and ruin your finish. nobody wants glue dots peering out from under a beautiful finish!

all clean! ready to cure overnight.

over night the glue dried, and the next day we took the clamps off. first step is obviously see how the doors will look next to the credenza.

notice that the doors are made from the same waterfall pattern of walnut ply that i used on the side panels. i'm hoping that this will give the credenza a more uniform look from the side angles. i love the figure of the walnut on these sheets.

they look like doors to me. let's hang em!

i drilled a hole in the back of the door for the hinge to mount.

each door gets two hinges. these are fancy hinges with the soft close feature, i do love a soft close.

left door is up.

and now the right door is up!

a bit of adjustment and the doors fit beautifully.

when cutting wood, internal stresses of the wood piece are often relieved. the result is bent or warped wood. getting things to fit perfectly takes a lot of expertise, a lot of luck, and a bit of wiggle room. with my dad and me, we were able to have all three.

link to part 8 - shelving

Monday, June 25, 2012

the credenza part 6 - top to bottom

it took me a bit of elbow grease to get that mulberry juice off of my finger tips, but it was worth it as those little berries are delicious!

the glue part of the job is the most stressful and my least favorite, however it yields one of the biggest payoffs.  there's nothing like walking into the shop the next day, unclamping everything and watching pieces that were before separate, now connected as one. it is beautiful.

here's the credenza unclamped.

we set the top on to get a better feel for how the finished piece would look.

dad had to inspect something important.

up to this point we had brainstormed some ideas about how to attach the top to the base, but these were just our options and ideas.  now was the time to actually do it!

with some careful measurements, assessments of final aesthetics, and a bit of luck we made our decision. four contact points at the front, and four at the back.  the front pieces will be mounted on the inside, made from pieces of mulberry and the back would be mounted on the exterior of the back from pieces of solid walnut.

here is a front mount, we made sure to countersink the hole so that the head of the screw will not protrude from the face of the mulberry where the hole was drilled.

there are four, evenly spaced and mounted to the front face top crossbeam.

and this is how it fits with the top.

notice that the granite will sit inside of the top covering the four mounting blocks. since the granite will just sit there, when the credenza gets moved we'll push the granite up from the bottom and lift it out of the top frame.

the back mounts were completely different, being made of walnut and using two pieces instead of four for a simpler and more elegant look. again, this is the back which normally is up against a wall but we want it to look good from all angles.

the front screws sit parallel to the floor, the screws for the rear are both parallel and perpendicular. the screws that attach to the top will go from the bottom of this walnut piece into the top which will sit on top of it.

both mounts in all their glory, and the top sitting where it will be attached.

again, that hole in the back panel is for cables and power cords. i appreciate organized cabling, so i made sure to incorporate the ability to do so.

there may be a time where the credenza needs to be moved, and someone will grab hold of the top and try to lift it enough to scoot it to wherever.  we want to make sure that when that happens, the top doesn't rip off into their hands. granted, this thing is going to be pretty heavy so hopefully their back doesn't go out first!

notice those unsightly holes and shiny silver screws glaring out at you? well we like to plug them up!

there's a special drill bit we used to cut small cylinders of walnut, in order to dab a bit of glue on them and put them in the hole covering the shiny screw heads.  there will be no metal visible on the finished credenza (when the doors are closed).

the top won't be officially mounted until it gets to where it is going (my apt), so as of now we did not drill pilot holes in the top.

link to part 7 - tha doors.

Friday, June 22, 2012

the credenza part 5 - this time for real

after the credenza was dry fit it was time to determine exactly how the top would be attached to the base. most of this depended where we wanted the top to sit on the base, as well as how much overhang/under-hang when the top is where we wanted it to be. during the dry fit we were able to move the top around and measure in order to explore our options.

there were still a few steps to be done before the glue hit the wood. first thing to do was edge band the walnut ply. edge banding is simply gluing a piece of wood to the thin edge of another piece. we did this with the ply because the edge of ply wood is ugly. we edge banded with a small strip of solid mulberry.

here's a closer shot of the mulberry edge band on a piece of walnut ply.

small pieces of mulberry were then cut and sized to fit into the channels of the legs where the ply was to be glued. these pieces sit at the bottom of the leg, and the mulberry will slid in and sit on top of them. just bear with the pics for now, it'll come together when we start to assemble things.

a few shots of the small pieces being glued to the legs.

the last step before gluing was to cut a small hole in the rear pannel for the ability to run wires later. we created a template, then used the template with a router to cut the square hole. after the hole was cut we used some walnut veneer to edge band where the cut had been made

this is the point where my two weeks of being at my parent's home had come to an end. the progress up to this point had been done after work on weekdays, and on weekends for two weeks, there was also a day off taken during one of those fridays. so i packed the pieces of the credenza up in a closet and went back home for two months. this was in late march and early april.

in early june i came back for one week to finish what i started.

the first thing we did was route the top.
with a router we cut a groove on the inside top edge of the top where the slab of granite was to be fit.

it is difficult to see, but those corners are slightly rounded due to the router bit. we hand chiseled the rounded corners to be perfectly straight. doing work like this with hand tools makes me appreciate when all woodworking was done by hand and just how time intensive some simple tasks can be.

once that was cut, we dropped it off at the stone cutter along with the piece of remnant granite from the kitchen remodel. the woodshop doesn't have the ability to cut stone (yet) so this step was outsourced.

finally we were ready to lay down some glue!

clamps are used to move the wood into place and keep it there while the glue dries. we always let the glue dry overnight.

of course, an obligatory damp towel break was taken after the glue was set. dad's saying is right, all hell does break loose when the glue hits the wood. after gluing the base i was exhausted and sweating. this is one of the very few times in woodworking where you're racing against the clock. normally woodworking is a relaxing and therapeutic experience.

during this break we meandered out back to pick some mulberries from a tree my dad had planted a few years back. there are a variety of mulberry trees, some are fruitless while some bear fruit. this one has deep purple mulberries that are sweet and delicious. though they do stain your fingers if you squeeze too hard when pulling them off the tree.

link to part 6 - top to bottom.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

the credenza part 4 - a quick dry fit

once the top and front face were dry fit, and oogled for a while, it was time to get back to work. first task at hand is to sand off the burn marks. every wood works differently, and i can see why mulberry isn't a popular wood to work with. it was very likely to burn during cuts and is very hard. other woods i've worked with have virtually zero burn marks and the tools cut through them like a hot knife through butter. regardless i still enjoy the mulberry, as it is extremely unique and i've read that over time the yellow tint changes to brown.

back to sanding! the top edge of this piece shows the results of a table saw burn.

with a little sanding...

abra-ca-dabra, the burn marks have vanished!

it is important to not sand faces that will be glued together. the cut faces are as flat and perfect as you'll ever get them, sanding will cause that perfectly flat face to become imperfect, and you'll see this imperfection when you glue the pieces together.

in our calculations, about 1 1/2 sheets of plywood were needed, which means we had to buy two sheets of plywood. i know what you're thinking "plywood?!?! i thought this was a fine piece of furniture!!??" don't be alarmed, not all plywood is created equal. most people only have experience with the cheap  and ugly plywood from home depot. we went to a lumber store and sifted through over twenty sheets of grade a-1 walnut ply. each sheet of grade a-1 walnut ply costs $100. that's right, i spent $200 on two sheets of plywood, but trust me this stuff is beautiful.

most of the time when we're woodworking we are on our feet and the hours fly by in the shop. in order to sustain this, we have to take breaks. when we are done working with power tools, we'll crack open a beer for a break. but we only do that when we have to glue, sand, or work with something that has no potential to take off a finger. another type of break we take involves a damp rag and plenty of oogling.

getting the wood damp with a rag shows what the wood will look like when finished. in this pic the brown wood is the walnut ply, the vertical top piece of mulberry is dry, and the front face of the vertical piece has been wet with a damp rag. notice how deep the yellows and browns are in the vertical piece vs the dry horizontal piece of mulberry.

here's a shot of the walnut, look at how the colors become far more dramatic and beautiful. unfinished wood is ashy and grey.

short breaks like this not only give our feet and backs a rest, we become fueled with motivation to press on with a temporary glimpse at just how fantastic our piece will look when it's all done.

as i noted earlier one aspect of woodworking that i enjoy is choosing the right piece of wood for the job. here's an example. for the rear of the credenza i needed a large sheet of ply to fit between the rear legs. the ply has different looks on either side so i had to choose which side would face out, and which would face in.

this side of the ply had dark ovals, that reminded me of ghosts for some reason

this side of the ply had more of a waterfall look, with some sapwood peeking out. i ended up choosing this side of the pannel for the rear of the credenza, and in the orientation you see in this picture.

after cutting the ply for the rear and sides, it was time to do a dry fit. this is where we put everything together just as if we were gluing it, but with no glue. we always dry fit before glue for a few reasons. many times there needs to be some rework in order for things to fit as they should, and a dry fit exposes these things. secondly we can get a practice run in as to the order of events when gluing. another quote my dad seems to repeat quite a bit in the shop: "all hell breaks loose when the glue hits the wood". it's better to be over prepared for that glue!

front of the credenza, dry fitted.

the side panels have the beautiful walnut waterfall that made me choose the specific sheets of walnut ply. i also plan to use panels with the same pattern for the doors.

with the legs, panels, and front face all dry fit, we set the top on, to see how awesome things were looking and to also figure out how we would be attaching the top to the base. i love that slash of mulberry sapwood on the right hand side of the front face.

(dad leaves his finger print on the pictures he takes, literally)

remember, this is a ttt (turntable table) so i had to give it a dry run. i'm practicing a mix with my phantom tables and headphone.

this is my dad's patented thinking pose, with his hands tucked into non-existent pockets behind his woodshop apron.

and this is how i feel about the project at this point!

link to part 5 - this time for real.