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!

Animal Train

Wooden toys are one of those things I particularly enjoy making in the workshop.  The whole quality thing, the tactile thing, the longevity thing, the imagination thing (as opposed to all bells and whistles being built in), and not to mention the satisfaction of watching a child genuinely enjoy and play with a toy that you have made for them.

Some of the toys take quite a bit of effort to make, and as a one-off, that is never a drag.  It is also very rewarding to be able to donate toys to other causes, and in those situations you want to be able to make as many as possible, and as quickly as possible so coming up with a duplication method is very valuable.

There are many different ways that parts can be duplicated – stacking, router table template copying are probably the most common.  I have the advantage of the Torque Workcentre, so for this project I chose to create a duplication template.

Instead of cutting the patterns for the animal train out of the intended timber, I chose 6mm MDF.  It has the advantage of being dimensionally stable, easy to machine and shape, and cheap.

Once the shapes were cut out, I stuck them to a 19mm thick MDF board using carpet tape. Flipping the board over, then holding each pattern against the copy pin in the table while the router with a matching router bit cuts a new track.

The resulting tracks makes creating duplicates of each object very easy.  The board is again turned over, and one of the paths is captive on the copy pin.  Whatever timber you then want to make the object out of is attached to the upper side, ready for routing.

For this project, I am using New Guinean Rosewood.  Carpet tape is applied to not only stop the board moving, but once the object is cut free, the carpet tape keeps it from bouncing into the cutter.  I also used a couple of screws in non-essential areas to ensure the board could not slip during the cuts.  The patterns up can see under the board were lightly cut into the upper surface making it easy to align timber to the pattern, and in particular ensure the grain direction supports the weak areas of the pattern.

After 2-3 passes, the items are cut free.  These are then taken to the spindle sander for a quick post-machining touchup.  Given I am making these out of a decent timber, I will come back to give them a much better degree of finish.  There is some waste areas between the patterns, but this is not wasted timber.  From here, the offcuts make their way to the drill press where I cut wheels out of the offcuts with a Carbitool wheelcutting bit.

I still have some work to do to finish this train, but at least you can see here where it is heading.

The benefit of making the copy template means I can now easily produce train after train in whatever material I want.  I’ll probably make the next set out of MDF and paint it appropriately.

Moo.

 

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