Christmas Cooking

The kickstarter for this project came just over a month ago, and it has consumed a great deal of time and effort, but it is all worthwhile.  And she is the reason why.

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My little one

Soon to turn 6, it was well overdue for her to have something significant out of the shed she loves visiting.

With a combination of conflicting priorities, it was always going to be interesting to see how it came out.  Short deadlines, a house purchase and a particularly busy work schedule all competed to derail the project, while making a great kitchen for my daughter, making the kitchen entirely from timber and having the experience of making two different toy kitchens before worked towards a decent result.  Especially wanting Jessie to have a kitchen that I’d made her.  I’ve never finished a project so late (and during the build I knew it wouldn’t be fully complete, as far as being fully finished, so already had some compromises), nor have I had so many nicks and cuts from rushing around a shed that was quickly running out of space, and being pushed for time meant I wasn’t working to keep things as orderly as needed for a limited space, while splinters were common from the hardwood.

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The unwrapping begins

The two large wrapped parcels hardly gained a second look during the morning, but there were tonnes of distractions in the form of wrapped parcels!  Finally, it was time for the reveal – two large, fully wrapped presents.  It didn’t take long to reveal what was within, and it was pretty exciting!  You cannot tell from the photos, but I can see the different expressions there, and can still hear the excited squeals.

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The great unwrap!

It did look very cool breaking through the wrapping paper.

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Amidst torn paper

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Kitchen full of……wrapped stuff

Once the main sheets of wrapping paper were removed, there was another surprise.  The units were packed full of more presents (and this after a morning of unwrapping).  It was all the real tools of the trade- saucepans, cutlery, mashers, bowls, jugs etc.  We had been shopping at Kmart a week earlier – they have a whole range of kitchenware, most with a $2 price tag.  At the checkout, they fully expected us to be first-home buyers given the range of items in the cart.  They are perfect – cheaper and better than any sold in toy sections, and that they are ‘real’ not ‘toy’ added to the experience during the reveal.

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Proud new owner

I’m very pleased how the units came out, and the small details of jarrah and redgum stood out against the quality of the Tassie Oak.

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Learning the ‘controls’

I couldn’t help myself from pointing out some of the details I had included (mainly what each of the controls said, that I had burnt into the knobs with the pyrography set).  Then it was a matter of sitting back and enjoying the soups, cupcakes etc that were being produced for the family.  With playdoh food, the imagination play is endless.

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Checking out the oven

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Cooking up a storm

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Making tea

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Washing up

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All fitted out

Some of the details then: the sink is laminated Tassie Oak and Redgum, as are the drawer fronts (with a jarrah handle).  It is all glued, and in some cases also using Dominos.  I avoided any metal fasteners until near the end, when it became obvious that it would be a significant compromise to continue with that ideal.  That was when I first made some hinges for the oven, using wooden dowels, and that caused breakages.  Once I had decided on brass hinge rods, then a few other places benefited from a minimal amount of metal.  The drawers are dovetailed, the shelf a lattice, and the lower shelf using offcuts.  In fact this project had less wastage from offcuts than I can remember seeing in a long time.  There are hardly any at all, with wastage being small pieces assigned to the firewood bin, or are sawdust in the collection bag (and that is full).  I went through two full bottles of glue – about a full litre of yellow PVA on this project.  Again, the result of joining so many boards together to create the panels required.  The Frontline clamps got a significant workout.  The side panels each have a routed picture – one of the little surprises.

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Oven detail

I love the strap hinges – they came up awesome!  The Incra Hingecrafter was a significant asset.  The Hingecrafter is not just the drilling jig, but also the box set of router bits that match.  Being able to make your own hinges is a great feeling – you really come away ‘owning’ the project being able to make, rather than buy the accessories.  About the only thing I purchased for this was the castor wheels.

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Stove / Oven controls

The toy wheels, repurposed as control knobs were supplemented with the pyrography kit burning in names, and values.

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Oven hinge detail

The hinges for the oven – very functional, strong, and compared to commercial hinges I have used before in the same situation, less likely to rip out of the timber as the load is distributed over a larger area.

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Sink

A bandsawn faucet (rounded over on the router table), and a couple of oversized wheels for taps made with a wheel cutter on the drill press.

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Dishwasher

The tambour door looks the part, and I added a spinning nozzle to the base to complete the dishwasher.

To finish this project off, I need to replace the hinges on the cupboard door (a short job with the hingecrafter), sand, roundover edges, and apply an oil finish.  Even so, a very satisfactory conclusion to the project (or at least a major delivery point).

Next, the kitchen needs a microwave, sandwich press, toaster (to start).  A storage cupboard may be in order, and a fridge.  The possibilities are endless.

Merry Christmas Jessica!

Getting closer

Been popping out to the shed to continue to take small bites out of the toy kitchen project.  This one is taking a lot more bites than normal – partly the detail I am including, partly the timber source I am using (and having to glue up constantly to get the panels I need).

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Drawers (Gifkins Dovetail)

A kitchen needs drawers, especially one for cutlery. I decided to make two – keep things even on the sink unit.  Dovetail drawers were the order of the day, and once again I turned to the Gifkins – takes no time to dovetail up the sides.  Took me longer to machine and glue up the base!  I’ve only recently started using the Bessey clamps with the jig, and they sure do work a treat.

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Tambour handle

The tambour door wasn’t working very smoothly while I was testing the track, but freed up a great deal when I actually secured it in.  The track was sanded, then waxed with Ubeaut traditional wax.  Now it runs as smooth as you’d expect – perhaps even more so!  I needed a handle, so took a piece of the reclaimed redgum, routed a finger hold, then dominoed it to the tambour door with 4mm dominos.

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Stove progress

I am making this kitchen without any plans, so find it really beneficial to occasionally put the components I have made so far together, to get a vision of the final product, and see what needs to be done next. I also find it worthwhile, because it gives me ideas for other items to add.  The dovetailed drawers are one example, and a plan to make some spinning arms for the dishwasher is another.

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Wooden hinges

I was still working on the concept of the kitchen being 100% wood and glue, and so tried to make some wooden hinges that used a wooden dowel.  The result was less than ideal, so rather than force the issue, I will incorporate a minimal amount of metal.

I am still planning on using wooden hinges, just now with a brass pin.  The photo above was during the trial, and is the largest hinge that I can make with the hingecrafter.  It didn’t work out for a number of reasons, but was a good test, and the lessons learned will be incorporated into the remake.  I am planning on making a wooden strap hinge for the oven door – if you have a hinge (especially a wooden one), sometimes it is nice to make a feature of it.  It also means I can make it large without it looking out of place.  I will get back to making the hinges next “small bite!”

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Drawer fronts

Glued up the drawer fronts – a centre of redgum, because I could.  I have moved onto a new glue bottle (Gorilla yellow PVA), and wasn’t used to how far the glue spreads, and how much the nozzle dispensed, and got a bit much here!  At least the joint won’t be dry.  Easy enough to remove when the glue turns rubbery.

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Drawers in place

I added runners to the sink unit for the drawers.  With a small recess in the side of each drawer, and a notched runner, the drawers need no other guide to work successfully.  The fronts still need to be added obviously.

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Frontline Clamps

The Frontline clamps have again proved invaluable – hardly a minute that they haven’t had one panel or other being glued up.  So much so, that I really want to consider a more permanent home for the setup in the new workshop.  I am even considering whether to add an additional three clamps to my setup – either more 900mm ones to match my existing, or even three 1200mm clamps.

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Tops ready for machining

The tops of the two units are now glued, sanded and are ready for final sizing, and for the sink to be inserted into one, and stove elements routed into the other.  Still so much to do!  Just so little time.

Enter, the Router Table

Taking the first components off to the next stage of the process involves the router table, and the rail & stile plus raised panel bits.

Cutting the interior profile

After some test cuts, the router table was set up to run the rails and stiles through the first router bit.  I use MagSwitch featherboards to hold the timber against the router table fence. They are so easy to position, and hold fast to the cast iron top of my router table.  Make you think it fortunate my router table is cast iron, but it came about in the reverse order.  I made the router table out of cast iron so that I could use MagSwitches on it.

Woodpeckers Coping Sled

After changing to the complementary router bit, it was time to cut the end grain of the rails.  If you ever wonder how to remember which is which, think about rails being horizontal.  They certainly are for trains! The stile is the other one.

The Woodpeckers Coping Sled is awesome for this task.  It holds the rails perfectly, and perpendicular to the direction of travel.  If I had taken more care, I would have used a sacrificial backing.  Probably should have – hardwood tears out a bit too easily. I’ll make sure I do when cutting the doors for the sink unit.

I just checked – the coping sled is still available from Professional Woodworkers Supplies.  They now have a mini one as well, but given the full sized one is on special, I’d still go with that one (the one pictured above).  There is so much more with this one, it is worth the difference.

Sanding the panels

After removing the panels being glued up in the Frontline clamps, I used the Festool belt sander to do a final flattening (including removing any glue squeezeout).  The large sander weights 7kg, and when coupled with the sled means you can hold the handle, and, well, hang on – letting the tool do all the work.  The work is clamped up using brass dogs on the vice, and dogs in holes in the table.

Panel bit

Once sanded (not the final sand – more a sizing sand than a finishing one), it was back to the router table, this time with a raised panel bit.  I don’t have a raised panel bit with a cutter for the back yet, so have to adjust it manually. This is not the final pass, but an intermediate one to check fit.  Best to do the crossgrain first, then the longgrain.

Panel bit

This is a monster bit – pretty much at the limit that a router can (or rather should) drive.  The run at the slowest speed still gets a decent tip speed.

Test fit

A quick test fit showed I was close, but still needs another pass to get it there.  Looking good though.  Will look even better when I do the 3D routing into each panel!  Once that routing is done (next session), then I can glue the panels up.

Thicknessing undersized stock

One thing I have been surprised with so far, is the lack of waste.  I’d always try to use timber to maximise yield, but there is always waste.  So far I’d not have enough offcuts to fill a 10L bucket – the yield is exceptional.

Even these thin panels that were ripped off the 19-20mm thick boards.  They will be perfect for the back of the units.  I wanted to run them through the thicknesser, but it just doesn’t go thin enough.  To solve that problem, I clamped on a sled.  The boards would not feed initially, but with a quick rubdown with Sibergleit, the boards fed through smoothly and easily.  I wouldn’t do this with any timber, or to go too thin, but it will get you out of trouble.
So a good session.  Progress seems slow, but this is always the slow part of any project.  Once the items are cut, and some preliminary joinery done, it usually flies together.

 

Some good news and bad news.  The good news is that I am documenting sessions on video.  Bad news is I am not planning on releasing the video until the project is complete!

Kitchen Commencement

It has begun!  Unlike projects for myself, I am well-motivated to finish those I am making for others, especially where it comes to Xmas presents!

90×30 Hardwood Timber

This is what I am starting with, and with a few taps with a hammer they come apart easily.  These were assembled well before nail guns were commonplace, so 40mm thin nails were used, and the cross braces are easily encouraged loose.  After running some boards through, they are pretty straight , especially over the lengths I am using.  They are all around 1800 long.

Dressed and sized

After dressing and sizing, the boards come up beautifully.  These have been resawn to 18mm thick.  Then ripped to the width required for the rail & stile joinery.

Glueup

Another set were resawn to 10mm for the infill panels.  I am making these thin, as I don’t want a heavy look to the raised panels, and to minimise the amount of weight in the final unit.  They are going to be heavy enough as it is.

Frontline Clamp

Once again, the Frontline clamps are proving their weight in gold.  As they clamp up, they squeeze the boards flat, then clamp them together.  I could do with another set for larger glueups!

Clamped up

After all the planing, thicknessing, ripping and crosscutting, the first items have been produced, ready to make their way over to the router table.

Components

There will be a lot more produced before this project is completed!

Goodnight, Sleep Tight

It took pretty much two months to the day to build the cot, given that we were snatching half a day here, half a day there.

Friday evening was the final push, and we just kept at it until all the final issues were solved (making the side rise and fall, how to assemble it, etc etc).  Took us through to about 12:30 at night, but we got it done.  It isn’t sanded and oiled as yet (that’s a job for the expectant father!) and the final bit of time he has before his world becomes somewhat busier!  Looking back at the earliest posts, and we were a bit naive in our predictions on just how long/how many sessions it would take.  Just Friday night was a bit of a marathon – not that it wasn’t a good time, just that tasks always take longer than planned!  3 sessions?  More like 5 or 6 (really lost track!)

But first I’ll back up a bit, for a quick summary / overview, and then with more detail from the assembly of the ends.  As mentioned earlier, the focus was very much on the planning and construction of the cot, rather than documenting the process.

Session one was getting the bed itself made – the surround and base for the mattress.  Everything in the project was made from Tasmanian Oak, and machined down (and out of) large slabs such as seen here:

Tassie Oak Slabs

It was glued up in a later session (clamped up with Frontline clamps), with a rail under the bed supporting the MDF bed base.  This was also drilled with a series of large holes for ventilation.

Bed section clamped up

Session two involved making the slats (and some testing to get the distances between slats right, so it was even over the cot length.  Again, the actual glueup happened in a later session.

Making the slats

All the rail components

We also resawed, dressed and glued up the pine end panels in this session.

End panels

A month then passed while we both had other distractions.

Session three commenced with a glueup of the various sections.  The bed (as seen above), and the rails.

Rails glued up

Each end panel had the 3D routing done, and the rails for the cot ends made.

Session four was time for the legs to be made.  These were each notched so the bed rested firmly on them, transferring the load directly down the legs rather than through a mechanical joint.  A T Track was routed into the two front legs, using a slot-cutting router bit.

By the end of the day (including some extra work done afterwards), the ends were done.  This is where we pick up the story.

After producing the inserts for the ends (10mm thick pine boards, joined to produce a full panel), routing the 3D pattern into each end, it was time to cut them to their final dimension.  The question is, how to use the tablesaw to cut boards with uneven ends.

There are a whole host of methods promoted, sleds that clamp down on the piece, extension tables either built into the tablesaw (or added on, such as the Triton Extension Table) etc.  Actually, speaking of which, the Triton extension table would have been great for this project, if I had somewhere to actually put it!  This project really demonstrated how tight the shed has become. Assembly, and even moving around the larger components was a real problem.  Could really do with another shed, either to spread the overall load, or to use more as a project area / workbench area rather than the actual timber shaping/component construction.

Back to cutting the panel.  The solution I used was to attach a temporary straight-edge to the board, and it ran along the tablesaw fence, so the opposite side could be cut parallel.

Using a straight edge

In this case it was simply a piece of MDF and a couple of screws into what would become waste.  FWIW, I hadn’t set up the saw at this point, changing the blade to a crosscut blade and then replacing the splitter and guard.

The top and bottom rails were dominoed onto these boards (biscuits could have been used), glued and clamped, then the whole assembly glued and clamped to the legs to form the cot ends.  This was done over a number of days (availability of clamps, and time), ready for the final session.

Assembling the panels

Cot ends

(Yes, I know you have just seen this image – as mentioned, I was concentrating a lot more on the build than on documenting the process! Sorry 🙂 )

Session five – our late night marathon to finish.

A bed takes shape!

There was a lot of bolting and unbolting of the ends as we finished off the various components and steps, and the beauty of the cot is it can be flat-packed when no longer needed.  Just with the ends bolted on, the rigidity was obvious.  An extra stringer between the ends would be ideal, but with a combination of bolts and the corners being recessed into the legs is enough.

The back rail was added, again bolted to the bed itself, and with dominos into the legs.  These were left unglued – more than enough strength left just like that.  In time if it proved necessary, a small hole and a piece of dowel inserted through the leg and the domino as a pin would lock them together.

The final job was getting the front rail so it was functional.

At first it was pretty tight – a roof screw running up and down the track.  With quite of bit of trial and error, sanding the track a bit, adding some plastic tube to cover up the exposed screw threads, adjusting the height of the screws so they run cleanly in the track, and finally lubricating the track with Ubeaut Traditional Wax.  Whatever it was (and more likely a combination of them all), it went from being a bit average, to running as well as any commercial solution.  With spring-loaded catches at the top edge that automatically engage when the rail is lifted, the cot was finished (at least as far as my involvement).  Still needs a bit of sanding and oiling, but other than that, a really successful, enjoyable build.

Finished!

Side dropped to lower position

The final view

So the cot was done – getting it out of the shed was a mission – we took it out assembled, and it was a rather tight fit (leveraging it around the bandsaw).

Getting it into the covered trailer was also interesting.  Another 5mm in leg length (perhaps even less), and it would not have fitted.  Also in length – it was like absolutely built with the trailer dimensions in mind!

So that’s it – another successful project conclusion.  There is always that air of relief, satisfaction, remorse, disbelief when a project is over.  Fortunately, there is always more timber out there, and so many more projects to build!

Progress Report

It seems like days of preparing components for the cot – lots of machining.  And that is pretty much exactly what it has been.  We have been working primarily with 190 x 45 Tassie Oak (kiln dried hardwood), although there has now been some pine thrown into the mix.  Each piece has been resawn, planed, thicknessed.  It really gives a sense of ownership of a project where every dimension is controlled by you, and not relying on standard timber sizes provided.

Clamping up the end-boards

The panels at the end of the cot are made from solid pine, so were reduced in thickness to 12mm, then joined with the Frontline Panel clamps.  With their unique action to cause the work to be held down, as well as together, they yield excellent results. More on these end panels later – we will leave them now while the glue dries.

Sorting out the components part 1

After machining so many components, it was useful to lay them out according to the parts they are made for.

Sorting out the components part 2

Lots of individual parts in one of these things!

Mortising for the slats

Cutting the mortises for the slats is made incredibly simple with the Festool Domino, and with the extension wings added on either side to get exactly the desired clearance between the slats (and in accordance with Australian Standards).  A job that could otherwise take hours completed in a matter of minutes.

Assembling the mattress section

The mattress section was assembled and glued, and there was a slight problem with the MDF sheet – it was not 6mm thick as it should have been, being up to 0.5mm out, which made it bind in the slot that was cut.  So the power of the Frontline clamps was bought into play – this time by converting to a standard panel clamp layout, then the Frontlines were closed up.  It took no where the full 4 tonne these clamps are capable of, and nothing can resist!

Now the observant among you will notice I have opened my Bessey account.  I decided to go with a brand that was readily available, so started my new collection with 2x 1000mm and 2x 600mm Bessey clamps.  Now I just need more (and more clamp sizes)

Assembling the sides

So once the sides were routered, it was time for it to go together.  The slats were not glued – easy to remove if they ever break (presumably not – we have already torture tested them).

Starting to really look the part

It is really looking like a cot now!

Routed end detail

Once the end panels were dry, it was time to add some details, so I chose to go with the 3D router carver from Carbitool.  One panel got a classic treatment. The other found something a lot more appropriate.

Adding 3d Routed Detail

So assembly has begun in earnest.  Hard to stop once the finish line is in sight!

Best Parallel Clamp

I received an email tonight asking about parallel clamps, and thought my response may be of benefit to the wider community, so have posted it here.

The question was:
Hi Stu. Mate I was wondering what would u say is the best parallel clamps?
Jet, Bessey, Groz. And include best and value$$

My response:

The “best” without question are Frontline, with 4 tonne of clamping force, U section structural grade aluminium channel beams, thrust bearings, and a unique ability when making panels of applying pressure to push the panels flat, before pushing the boards together. Invented, and made in Australia. They are expensive compared to other clamps, and not designed to be used on something like a glueup of furniture for example.

I wrote an article in the Australian Wood Review a couple of years ago on exactly this topic, can’t remember my findings exactly, but both Jet and Bessey rated well, and would be my preference for a set of parallel clamps. Jet seemed particularly good value for money at the time, and a nice clamp, but it seems the vast majority regard Bessey as the preeminent brand, and any well stocked workshop inevitably has a large collection of Bessey clamps to hand. My clamp range is sadly lacking now I am thinkng about it. I do have a pair of Jet (and three 900mm Frontline!) and when I do get to stock up, I will only be looking at Jet or Bessey for value for money, quality and versatility. None of the other brands will get a look in.

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